Friday, March 25, 2011

#122 - Jim Holt

This is Jim Holt's last Topps card in a Twins uniform, the team with which he played most of his career. In '75 he gets air-brushed into an A's uniform even though he played for Oakland in '74. Jim had his busiest MLB season in '73. Back from the minors and with long-time left-fielder Tony Oliva moved to DH, Jim split starts in that position with Larry Hisle while also spending some time at first base. At the top of the season he hit from the ninth spot where his free-swinging ways and speed were seen as good complements to the top of the order guys, Hisle - Larry Hisle led off? - and Rod Carew. But Jim did such good work with his stick. posting career highs across the board, that by season's end he was in the fifth spot. Here he gazes wistfully in an unknown location, perhaps to the '74 Series where he will have his moment in the sun.

Jim Holt grew up in North Carolina where he played high school ball but was a little guy. After graduating he tried out for both the Pirates and the Indians but when both passed he enlisted in the Army. There he played some service ball and was signed by the then Kansas City As in '65 as a free agent. I have read from a couple undocumented sources that he then missed his first year because he was serving in Viet Nam which would make him just the third guy on this blog to have done so, but have found no verification of that service. In both '66 and '67 he did put in a couple Single A seasons for the As, playing the outfield and producing a well over .300 average. Following the '67 season he went to the Twins in the Rule 5 draft and was on their major league roster for all of '68, grabbing a little over 100 at bats in a crowded outfield. He then went down to Triple A Denver in '69 where he had a very impressive season.

In '70 Holt returned to the Twins and the next two years would see significant action in the outfield, primarily in center, where he spit time after Ted Uhlaender was traded, and left, when Tony Oliva had to rest his aching knees. But the Twins had plenty of hitting and Jim was not distinguishing himself enough to stick around. So in '72, when Oliva's injury should have given Jim a big opportunity, he was sent back to Triple A where he had another All-League season (.333 with 96 RBIs). He then hit .444 in a late season call-up and stuck for all of '73. Jim had foot issues and following the '73 season had a bone spur removed from one foot. In the '74 season Jim was moved to first base full time and either despite or because of his operation his average dove about 40 points as his playing time was constrained. He was also apparently gaining weight and that August he went to Oakland for Pat Bourque to provide some timely hits for the A's down yet another playoff-bound stretch. He didn't exactly deliver, going 0 for 20 as a pinch hitter. But Oakland made the playoffs anyway and in Game 4 of the Series, Jim would deliver the game-winner. In '75 he again put in most of his time at first, but the weight continued to be an issue and his playing time again decreased as he hit .220. In '76 most of his time was spent at Triple A Tucson where although he hit .337 he was released before the season ended. After a season spent in Mexico in '77 ended his time in baseball Jim finished with a .265 average with 177 RBIs. His career average in the minors was .319. In the post-season he hit .273 with two RBI's in twelve games.

After baseball, Jim returned to North Carolina where he was a fireman in a town called Elon. In '79 he started a business with a couple other guys that sold specialty fire hoses to municipal fire companies. That business was sold in 2006 but it appears that Jim remained with the company and continues to work there now. He has a SABR page.

In that '69 season at Denver, Jim also had 12 triples. This cartoon is lame and the inviting comment given that he supposedly had a weight issue is that maybe he enjoyed watching television a little too much.

All AL again. In fact, these guys played together:

1. Holt and Larry Lintz '75 to '76 As.

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