By James Anderson
When Major League Baseball opened the 2007 regular season it was 10 years since Texas Rangers broadcaster Mark Holtz was endearing fans with his warm friendly voice and his astute play-by-play. Doesn’t seem that long ago.
Every avid baseball fan in North Texas from 1982 to 1997 remembers “Hello Win Column,” because it was Mark’s signature call everytime the Texas Rangers registered a victory over an opponent. And, that phrase coined by Mark Holtz will be indelibly linked to Mr. Holtz as long as there are Texas Rangers fans and baseball fans in general in and around North Texas.
After coming onboard with the Texas Rangers in 1982, Mark teamed with Rangers color commentator Eric Nadel, bringing to the organization the finest broadcast tandem in team history. Rangers fans in general would still be enjoying the fabulous play-by-play of Mark and his fine color commentator Eric Nadel together had cancer not cut Mr. Holtz’s career short in 1997.
Major League baseball in the state of Texas has been a frustrating endeavor to say the least since the introduction of the big league game in 1962 when Houston was awarded a National League franchise named the Colt .45s and in 1972 when the then Washington Senators pulled up stakes and moved to Arlington, Texas renaming the franchise the Texas Rangers.
Much of both teams histories have experienced general frustration over the years having had few opportunities to shine as truly winning ballclubs, but during that same period in both team’s history both Houston and Arlington, Texas could always boast of having some of the finest Major League baseball broadcasters in the business in one Gene Elston of the Houston Astros and Mark Holtz of the Texas Rangers.
Unfortunately with the east coast and west coast bias, much of the quality work of both of these men went un-noticed over the years. In the case of Gene Elston though, after several years of a grass roots effort in his behalf, Mr. Elston was finally recognized by the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and awarded the 2006 Ford C. Frick Award for Excellence in Broadcasting.
Tragically while at the peak of his career Mark Holtz was diagnosed with a genetic bone disease that eventually turned into Leukemia, taking Mr. Holtz away from his adoring fans, family, and friends.
What set Mr. Holtz apart in a profession in which big egos are common, is Mark’s desire to not only call games with astute professionalism but to make it his duty to respect anyone whom he came into contact with. This allowed Mark to become close friends with all those he worked with as well as the fans. Thus with Mr. Holtz untimely death in 1997 it not only effected gravely his close family members but also all the fans who came to feel they were all personal friends of Mark.
During his tenure with the Texas Rangers, Mark Holtz won the Texas Broadcaster of the Year award 8 times and was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. Tom Grieve, former Texas Rangers general manager and current TV color commentator for the Rangers television broadcasts, said he was grateful to have learned broadcasting from Holtz. As Tom Grieve commented, “When you talk to other people in the broadcast business, they’ll tell you that Mark Holtz was one of the best, if not the best announcer in baseball.” “He wasn’t (just) a broadcaster. He was more of a fan that loved baseball and loved the players. And he had the ultimate voice for the game,” Grieve said. “He was a friend to so many of us�not only to the people he saw on a daily basis, but (to) the thousands of people throughout Texas who listened to him and his reporting of our games…” Rangers President Tom Schieffer said.
Gene Elston, former voice of the Houston Astros for 25 years and a professional broadcaster for nearly 60 years, commented that “Mark Holtz was one of the finest broadcasters I’ve ever heard in my 50 plus years in professional broadcasting”.
This pretty much is indicative of the memories, words, and thoughts that come to mind when remembering Mark Holtz. Clearly even if Mark had chosen another career besides broadcasting or one outside of baseball altogether he still would have affected those around him in a positive way because that simply was the kind of man he was. I recall a phrase from a movie in which the character said, “It’s not how much you love that counts but how much you are loved by others.” That certainly applies to “Holtzie” as his friends called him.
Although the Texas Rangers seldom fielded winning teams during his years with the Rangers, Mark Holtz was indeed a winner in his own right and not just in the manner of speaking when associating the phrase to sports endeavors but a winner in life in general. He impacted so many peoples lives in such a positive way simply by allowing himself to befriend and respect those around him that I think all of us can agree that when speaking of Mark Holtz the man, we should all say “Hello Win Column” for Mark Holtz!
It is important that we remember and cherish our baseball heritage and history in the great state of Texas and that includes the memory of Mark Holtz who was important in helping to shape the professional baseball landscape in the state of Texas. We tip our collective hats to you, Holtzie. We all still miss you! Clearly it is past the time for local support to help put Mark Holtz’ name in Cooperstown along side his contemporaries who were chosen for the annual Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting in the past.
The time for vascillating is over. We ask for the support of the print media, radio, tv and the fans in the Metroplex. Come November all of these venues will be needed to generate enough fan votes for Holtzie to insure his name makes the list of the 10 finalists.
I ask you all to please step forward and let your voice be heard in support of Mark Holtz for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award.
Mark Holtz is clearly deserving of the award.
“Hello Win Column!” – Mark Holtz