Just call him Jerome

Just call him Jerome

There weren't many writers so distinctive and well-known as Jerome. And he was Jerome, not Jerome Holtzman or Holtzman. Like Elvis, the first name sufficed. Being 22 years his junior, I knew I had gained something when I felt comfortable, calling him Jerry. But if you wanted to be certain the guy you were talking to understood, you referred to Jerry as Jerome. He was the only one.

Jerome had a pretty distinct image. He had James Whitemore eyebrows and a lot of hair -- white. It seems to me, it already had been drained of color when I got to know him in the '70's. And he liked suspenders, not just when he went formal. And, of course, there was the cigar. Ever present. Jerome died six days after Red Foley of the New York Daily News. The cigar industry has taken a severe hit with their passing.

Press boxes that didn't smell like cigars were uncommon when I broke in. That scent never offended me. It smelled like baseball and my uncle's house.

Jerome ruled the press boxes in Chicago, as Jack Lang ruled at Shea Stadium. His voice -- or was it his persona? -- commanded attention. I loved it when he disagreed with a scorer's decision.

Jerome Holtzman, 1926-2008

My memories of Jerome begin with the card games (and the huge pots) on the BBWAA World Series charter flights and after hours at the Winter Meetings. Those guys -- Jerry, Dave Nightengale, Danny Castelllano, Bob Hertzel, Phil Pepe, Moss Klein, Jesse Outlar and Bill Milsaps -- loved poker. Jerome and Nightengale were the organizers. Jerry was conservative and successful. Nightengale would raise with one of a kind. He was successful.

I remember Jerome had his money -- a pretty big roll -- out before he found a seat on one of the charters. It was in his mouth, taking the place of the cigar. Pepe told Jerome he admired him "for putting your money where your mouth is."

On those flights, the smoking section was wherever Jerome was.

Jerome had a love-hate relationship with computers, and when deadline approached, it became hate-love.

Typewriters had a revered place in his life. And they made more noise, so maybe the guy next to him wouldn't hear Jerry's incessant humming so clearly.

There was no cheering in the pressbox. Jerome wrote the book so entitled. But there was laughing, cigar smoke, suspenders, an occasional beer and some love for the game. Thanks, Jerry.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.