The Mount Rushmore of Jewish baseball players always has Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg at the top. Right beside them is the great Ken Holtzman. Two no-hitters, two all-star appearances and three World Series Championships; quite a career! It has a been a dream of the Great Rabbino to catch up with one of the best Jewish players of all-time. Here is our interview with the incomparable Ken Holtzman!!!
1) You were born in St. Louis and eventually made a home there. What does the city mean to you and are you a Cardinals fan?
Being from St. Louis makes one a Cardinal fan from birth and I was no different. I regretted that I never had the chance to play for them.
2) A 3 time World Series Champion, 2 No Hitters, and 2 All-Star appearances. What stands out to you most as a player?
Having been privileged to play for one of the greatest and most colorful teams of all-time remains my greatest success. Everything that makes up the structure of all professional sports today can be traced back to that team and its influence on owner/player relations.
3) I imagine being a great pitcher and being Jewish the amount of times Sandy Koufax has been mentioned to you is a lot. Who were some of the players you looked up to and modeled your pitching style after?
I used to idolize the left handed pitchers of the Cardinals in the 1950’s such as Harvey Haddix and Harry Brecheen but my all-time favorite has to be the one with the best nickname in sports, Vinegar Bend Mizell (Wilmar Mizell).
4) Where is your mindset, around the 7th inning, when you have a no-hitter going? Are you able to talk to people, focus, etc?
During a no-hitter no one talks to you in the dugout so you have to learn to tune everything out and just focus on each hitter and ignore any distractions.
5) What have you been up to since your retirement from baseball? Are you still someone who follows the game closely?
I am retired completely now but up until a few years ago I was subbing at a few of the schools near here. I like to sometimes go out to my farm about 50 miles from here and just walk in the woods or fish in one of the lakes.
6) What was the experience coaching in Israel like for you after many years away from the game?
Going to Israel and seeing the whole country for several months was tremendous. Unfortunately, the baseball part was poorly planned and I didn’t enjoy that part.
7) What was your Jewish upbringing like?
I was brought up in a Conservative family but I was Bar Mitzvahed in an Orthodox shul so my grandfather could walk there. Education came first in my family but my parents supported me in athletics as well.