Turning Points: Jerome Holtzman and the Save

In this series we detail events, big or small, and their effect on MLB history. In this post, we detail Jerome Holtzman and the Save.

Holtzman was a newspaper writer for Chicago, and is regarded as the father of the save. The save rule is when a pitcher:

(a) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;

(b) He is not the winning pitcher;

(c) He is credited with at least a third of an inning pitched; and

(d) He satisfies one of the following conditions:

(1) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning;

(2) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batters he faces); or

(3) He pitches for at least three innings

Holtzman intended for this rule to be created to honor relief pitchers who did not get the Win like starters, but still deserved recognition. However. Holtzman’s rule had a major impact that he could not imagine.

Closing pitchers remained in their fireman role as before, and not being big accumulators of saves. Than Tony LaRussa and Dennis Eckersley made the role a 1 inning guy, and soon there were pitchers making millions for pitching 60 innings with the team in the lead.

So what did the save do? It created the Rolaids Relief Award (not bad), and is the reason why Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley, Trevor Hoffman (and soon Mariano Rivera) will the in the HOF. Those who couldn’t cut it as starters are now throwing 99 in the bullpen saving games and being worshiped more than those 3rd starters.