IBL: Holtzman leaves Pioneers with one week to play
Former Major League star's departure follows dispute with the Israel Baseball League's management.
By JEREMY LAST
Petah Tikva Pioneers manager Ken Holtzman has left the last place Israel Baseball League team just a week before season ending playoffs following a dispute with the league's management.
IBL Commissioner Dan Kurtzer confirmed Monday that Holtzman had left the league "by mutual agreement."
"We reached an agreement with him, he was ready to go and he left four or five days ago. It was the best thing to do at the time," Kurtzer told The Jerusalem Post.
Kurtzer refused to go into the details of Holtzman's concerns about the league, but said, "it may not have met his expectations."
"He [Holtzman] had some views we discussed," Kurtzer added. "It was a mutual agreement. There were things that were obviously on his mind and he decided to go."
Holtzman, who was part of the Oakland Athletics team which won three consecutive world series from 1972-74, was one of three former Major League stars brought to Israel in June to manage IBL teams.
But, unlike Ron Blomberg's table topping Beit Shemesh Blue Sox and Art Shamsky's third place Modi'in Miracle, Holtzman's Pioneers have had a torrid season winnning just seven of its first 38 games.
Modi'in assistant coach Tony Ferrara has taken over from Holtzman for the final games of the season.
Kurtzer said there was no animosity between Holtzman and the league. "He is a big boy. Theres no hard feelings on our side. He came out here and it wasn't easy to leave his family and other activities."
Meanwhile, Kurtzer admitted the league has told players to stop throwing balls out into the crowd following pregame practices and in between innings. He said, however, that he had no problems with fans keeping hold of foul balls or home run balls as "it is part of the game."
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