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  • Bill Chastain

No Cheering in the Press Box

Jerome Holtzman was a crusty sort. Bushy eyebrows. Cigar permanently affixed to his lips. Grouchy façade. But he cared about his fellow scribes, extending kindness to the breed--even newcomers like me.

Jerome covered baseball his entire life and personified a bygone era in the press box.

He once sent me a copy of the book he wrote, No Cheering in the Press Box. Several years ago, I gave that copy to a dear friend. Recently, I ordered another copy, which I've just begun to re-read. In this classic, he interviewed fellow sports writers from the previous generation, a collection including the likes of Fred Lieb, Red Smith, John Kieran, Paul Gallico, Shirley Popovich, and Jimmy Cannon.

“No cheering in the press box” isn’t a saying, rather a mandate to those not accustomed to working in a press box. Anybody who might dare cheer would quickly identify themselves as an amateur.

Holtzman's newspaper career began as a copyboy at the Chicago Daily News in 1943. He then wrote for the News through its merger with the Chicago Sun. Lewis Grizzard's path crossed paths with Holtzman's when Grizzard worked as the sports editor of the Sun-Times. The Southern humorist called Holtzman "the dean of American baseball writers."

Holtzman moved to the Chicago Tribune in 1981 and worked there until his retirement in 1999.

My first meeting with him occurred at a Majo