Jerome Holtzman

Current job: Sports columnist, Chicago Tribune. Cool because: Has covered the Cubs in spring training since 1959. Biggest change in spring training since then: "Well, I've just gotten older, that's all."

Other changes: "There's more people watching. The Cubs now draw as much for a workout as they used to draw for games. There could be as many as 1,500 to 2,000 people watching a workout."

Most profound memory: "What I remember about spring training is, one year the Cubs were in Mesa, and Bobby Thomson, an outfielder--the great Bobby Thomson--was staying at a fancy place in Scottsdale and paying $800-a-month rent. All of us thought, boy, that's really a lot of money. Eight hundred a month. We thought he was really living it up. I think the rest of us were paying like $250 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. I thought that guy must really have a lot of dough. Now some of those places cost you $1,500 a week."

Favorite ballpark: "I like the one in Mesa now, HoHoKam Park. It's a beautiful ballpark."

Phenomenology: "One year a fella named Norm Gigon--G-I-G-O-N. He was kind of a barrel-chested infielder, he was a schoolteacher. I don't know what part of the country he was from, but he hit about .430 in spring training for the Cubs and never even made the club. You really can't count too much on what you see in spring training. I remember him especially. He had a big spring."

Good dirt on off-the-field spring training high jinks: "I'm not that much of a social animal."

Theory on the Pink Pony: "It used to be a favorite hangout of a Chicago sportswriter who's dead now, Jim Enright--E-N-R-I-G-H-T. The late Jim Enright of the Chicago American. That was his headquarters and he had dinner there almost every night and a lot of people would come in there from all the clubs, not just the Cubs."

Arizona versus Florida: "I used to like Florida better in the beginning. I thought Florida was better because there was more action in Florida. There were more teams. You could see twice as many ballclubs in Florida. But in the last ten years or so I've really become a great fan of Arizona. I like Arizona much better. It's a better place. The only thing, in Arizona we lose two hours on our deadline, that's all. Which makes it more difficult, that's all. We've got to be through at six o'clock writing in Arizona. You've got till eight o'clock in Florida. So the time change is a slight inconvenience."

 
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