Saturday, September 20, 2014

Claude Osteen (#440)

Claude Osteen was a starting pitcher for 18 seasons (1957-75), primarily for the Dodgers and Senators. He compiled a career record of 196-195, and started 488 of his 541 career games. Most of his relief appearances came early in his career.

Osteen was signed by the Reds in 1957 and was assigned to their AA Nashville team. Although he pitched in the minors from 1957-59, he played a few games with the Reds in ’57 and ’59.

Claude was with the Reds for the entire 1960 season, starting 3 games but mostly working out of the bullpen. He spent most of 1961 back in the minors, then was traded to the Senators in September for pitcher Dave Sisler (brother of Phillies’ outfielder Dick Sisler).

Osteen pitched the next 3 seasons in the Senators’ rotation, his high point winning 15 games in 1964.

After the 1964 season, Claude was traded to the Dodgers (with 3rd baseman John Kennedy) for outfielder Frank Howard, 3rd baseman Ken McMullen, pitchers Phil Ortega and Pete Richert, and 1st baseman Dick Nen.

Osteen pitched for the Dodgers for the next 9 seasons, joining a rotation featuring Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and a fading Johnny Podres. Over time, Don Sutton replaced Podres and Bill Singer replaced Koufax. With the retirement of Drysdale after the 1969 season, Claude became the dean of the starting rotation.

Claude started 2 games in the 1965 World Series, and 1 game in the 1966 Series. He also won 20 games in 1969 and 1972, and was a 3-time all-star with the Dodgers. He got the win in the 1970 all-star game (thanks to Pete Rose’s walk-off steamrolling of Ray Fosse at home plate!)

1973 was Osteen’s final season with the Dodgers. He won 16 games that year, but with a fully-stocked rotation of Sutton, Andy Messersmith, Tommy John, and Al Downing, Osteen was traded to the Dodgers after the season for outfielder Jimmy Wynn.

Claude played most of 1974 with the Astros (compiling a 9-9 record in 138 innings), but moved on to the Cardinals in August in exchange for 2 minor-leaguers. He pitched in 8 games (mostly in relief) over the final six weeks, then was released the following April.

Osteen spent his final season with the White Sox in 1975, pitching 204 innings in 37 starts with a 7-16 record. (After his shabby treatment by the Cardinals in 1974, it was good to see him wrap up his long career as a workhorse!) He was released in April 1976.

After his playing career, he was a pitching coach for the Cardinals, Phillies, Rangers, and Dodgers.