Former All-Star, World Series champion pitcher Ken Holtzman dies

Left-handed pitcher Ken Holtzman, a two-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion with the Oakland Athletics, has died at the age of 78.

Holtzman's death was confirmed Monday by the Chicago Cubs in a post on social media.

Holtzman's brother, Bob, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Holtzman, a St. Louis native, was battling heart issues and was hospitalized for three weeks before dying Sunday night.

Holtzman played 15 seasons in the major leagues from 1965-1979, beginning and ending his career with the Chicago Cubs. Selected in the fourth round of the 1965 amateur draft, he made his MLB debut later that year at age 19, making three relief appearances as a September call-up.

Holtzman joined the starting rotation the following year, teaming with Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins to turn the Cubs from a 103-loss last-place squad in 1966 to playoff contenders over the next five seasons.

During that span, Holtzman threw a pair of no-hitters − one against the Atlanta Braves on August, 19, 1969, and the second against the Cincinnati Reds on June 3, 1971.

At the conclusion of the 1971 season, Holtzman was traded to Oakland for outfielder Rick Monday, giving him an opportunity to play in the postseason that never enjoyed in Chicago.

He made the American League All-Star team in each of his first two seasons with the A's, and helped lead them to three consecutive World Series titles from 1972-74. On teams that also included Cy Young award winners Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue, Holtzman started Game 1 of the World Series in all three of those seasons.

He won at least 18 games in all four seasons in Oakland with an ERA of 3.14 or lower in each. He also compiled a 6-4 record and 2.30 ERA in 13 playoff appearances.

Holtzman earned a fourth World Series ring as a member of the 1977 New York Yankees, but he did not appear in any games that postseason.

He also played part of one season with the Baltimore Orioles, finishing his career with a 174-150 overall record (.537) and a 3.49 ERA. His 174 career victories is the most in major league history by a Jewish pitcher, ahead of Sandy Koufax's 165.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ken Holtzman, former Chicago Cubs, Oakland A's pitcher, dies at 78