Wednesday, August 26, 2009

1969 One Cub At A Time - #288 Ken Holtzman

The Topps Card, which uses a photo that Topps used a few other times.

My updated version, with Holtzman in the wind-up at Wrigley Field in 1969.

Lefty Ken Holtzman was the #3 starter for the Cubs of 1969. He had been in the rotation since 1966, when as a 20 year old rookie he posted an 11-16 record. He spent most of the next season away from the team, as military duty called. He did pitch occasionally and ended the season a perfect 9-0. He was a full-time ballplayer in 1968, and he again notched 11 wins, this time against 14 losses.

Now a veteran at the age of 23, Holtzman won 17 games in 1969. The high point of his season was a no-hitter he pitched against the eventual NL West champs, the Atlanta Braves. At Wrigley Field on August 19, a crowd of 37,514 witnessed his gem, in which he struck out not one Brave, a real oddity among no-hitters. The win left the Cubs an 8 game lead over the Mets with only 40 games to go. It was just one more sign that this was the Cubs year.

But in a mere three weeks the 8 game lead was gone and the Cubs were in second place. Holtzman didn't help matters by going 3-6 after the no-hitter. His September ERA was 4.56. I would guess that he just got worn out. His 1969 innings total was 40 innings higher than he had ever pitched and by September the tank was empty.

He followed up in 1970 with his best season as a Cub, going 17-11. But in 1971 he faltered (though he did pitch another no hitter, this time against the Big Red Machine) and was really down on the team and Leo. His request for a trade was granted and he went to Oakland for center fielder Rick Monday. In Oakland he was in three straight world series, the only 1969 Cub star to see the world series from the field instead of the stands.

After stints in Baltimore and New York, he ended his career back with the Cubs in 1978 and 1979. The prodigal returned home.


  1. The feud with Steinbrenner really screwed up his later career.

  2. I was watching an old Cubs/Phillies game from 1969 on MLB network. It was in black & white. When did the networks start broadcasting games in color?

    cool word verification: cards

  3. As usual, I like your version better.