Valuable Player on the state championship
team. But being an unusually thoughtful athlete, he considered carefully before accepting
a baseball offer.
"I knew if I played
baseball, I'd be behind when I entered business," he said in an interview with Glenn
Dickey in Sport magazine. "Say I played until I was thirty-one; I'd be ten
years behind the guys I graduated college with. So, I had to be assured that I would get
enough money to make it financially worthwhile for me."
Ken signed for an
estimated $70,000 bonus from the Cubs after his junior year of college; he left school and
started his baseball career in the minors, but after only a couple of months, he was
quickly promoted to the Cub team, becoming a full-fledged major leaguer in 1965. After the
season, he returned to the campus and obtained his degree, majoring in French.
In his brief stay with
Chicago in 1965, Ken had not been involved in any official pitching decisions; but he
became a regular starter in 1966 at the tender age of twenty. His manager with the Cubs
was the fiery and controversial Leo Durocher, whose relationship with Holtzman started
well enough but gradually disintegrated until, after several seasons, Ken asked to be
But "Leo and Kenny
had a good relationship in 1966," says Ferguson Jenkins, the Cub's ace right-hander
in those years, in his own autobiography. Jenkins points out that the press was calling
Holtzman another Sandy Koufax, "which was unfair to him. Like Koufax, Kenny was
lefthanded and Jewish, but at the time he was only twenty and in his first year.
"Kenny had a good
live arm, a good fast ball and curve, and a remarkable change-up with which he had great