Jerry Holtzman wrote for his hometown papers in Chicago for over 50 years. Beginning as a copyboy at the Chicago Daily News in 1943, Holtzman wrote for the paper through its merger with the Chicago Sun, with a two-year gap when he served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He left the Sun-Times in 1981 for the Chicago Tribune. He remained at the Tribune for 19 years. He was nicknamed The Dean by long-time friend Billy Williams because he had been covering the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox seemingly forever.
His retirement was only from newsprint; in his new position as official historian of Major League Baseball starting in 1999, Holtzman wrote several columns on mlb.com. Among Holtzman's contributions to the game during his sixty year career, was the creation of the modern save rule. He was also responsible for the entry on baseball in the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
He was a regular foe of Bill James, who once wrote an article "Jerome Holtzman has a cow", belittling the older writer. The two sparred over numerous baseball topics over the years; the antagonism seemed to be mutual in nature.
Holtzman was famous for the decision to revert to counting walks in 1887 as hits, reviving an old debate. His position on the matter was rejected by most other researchers.
Holtzman won the 1989 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He won the Red Smith Award in 1997 and he was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
He is the author of a number of books on baseball, the most famous being No Cheering in the Press Box, an oral history of baseball reporting first published in 1974 and expanded in 1995.
Holtzman died in 2008, four days after suffering a massive stroke. He had been in ill health for some years. He was only replaced as MLB's official historian in 2011, when John Thorn was appointed to the post.
- Jerome Holtzman: No Cheering in the Press Box, Henry Holt & Co., New York, NY, 1995 (orignally published in 1974).
- Jerome Holtzman: The Commissioners: Baseball's Midlife Crisis, Total Sports Publishing, Kingston, NY, 1998.
- Jerome Holtzman: and Wes Singletary: Al Lopez: the Life of Baseball's El Señor, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 1999.
- Jerome Holtzman and George Vass: Baseball, Chicago Style, Bonus Books, Santa Monica, CA, 2001.