August 9, 1939 |
Caney Springs, Tennessee
|July 6, 1957, for the Cincinnati Redlegs|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 1975, for the Chicago White Sox|
|Earned run average||3.30|
|Career highlights and awards|
Claude Wilson Osteen (born August 9, 1939 in Caney Springs, Tennessee, near Chapel Hill), nicknamed "Gomer" because of his resemblance to Gomer Pyle, is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. He pitched for six different teams: the Cincinnati Redlegs/Reds (1957–61), Washington Senators (1961–64), Los Angeles Dodgers (1965–73), Houston Astros (1974), St. Louis Cardinals (1974), and Chicago White Sox (1975).
The most significant portion of his career was with the Dodgers. After 6 years in the majors, he was traded from the Senators to the Dodgers in a 7-player deal, with four players (two of whom were Frank Howard and Pete Richert) going to the Senators. As a Dodger, Osteen was finally made into a full-time starter. In his time with Cincinnati, he went 0-1; in his time with the Senators, he went 33-28. As a Dodger, his career finally took off.
After two years with an earned run average under 3.00, Osteen was considered a top starter and a workhorse. In those two years, Osteen and the Dodgers reached two straight World Series, the last two Osteen would reach in his career. In the 1965 World Series, the Dodgers would beat the Minnesota Twins in seven games, and Osteen pitched brilliantly. He had a 0.64 ERA in the Series with a 1-1 record including a shutout, which came after teammates Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax lost their respective games, the first two games of the Series. In the 1966 World Series, the Dodgers would lose to the Baltimore Orioles in four games. Osteen lost a 1-0 pitcher's duel with Wally Bunker in Game Three despite giving up only three hits in seven innings; a home run by Paul Blair accounted for the game's only run. Osteen's final postseason statistics include a 0.86 ERA with seven strikeouts in 21 innings pitched.
In 1967, he reached his first All-Star game, going 17-17 with a 3.22 ERA in 288⅓ innings pitched. He also picked up 14 complete games on the year, with five shutouts. In 1968 he posted a 3.08 ERA but won only 12 games against 18 losses. The 12 victories would be his fewest in a season from 1964–1973; the 18 losses tied him with Ray Sadecki for the major league lead. In 1969, Osteen won 20 games for the first time and set a number of career highs:
- 20 wins
- 321 innings
- 183 strikeouts
- 7 shutouts
- 16 complete games
- 41 starts
Moving towards the 1970s, Osteen was still pitching an amazing average of 260 innings a year, which made people often consider him a link to old-time baseball.
In the 1970 all-star game, Osteen pitched three shutout innings and got the win in a game most remembered for the play in which Pete Rose barreled into Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 12th inning. Coincidentally, like Osteen, the pitcher and hitter involved in the walk-off single were also Tennessee natives: Jim Hickman (a Dodger teammate of Osteen's in 1967) collected the hit off losing pitcher Clyde Wright (coincidentally, Hickman and Wright would become Comeback Players of the Year in their respective leagues).
In 1972, Osteen had a particularly strong year, finishing with 7 complete game victories in his last 9 starts. That year, he was 20-11 with a 2.64 ERA in 252 innings pitched.
He made his 3rd and final All-Star team in 1973, in his last real quality season, and his last season with the Dodgers. That year, he went 16-11 and had a 3.31 ERA with a 2nd-place Dodger team. In his 33 starts on the season, he had 12 complete games and 3 shutouts. He had won in double figures each year from 1964–1973.
Osteen played his final game on September 27, 1975 with the White Sox. He was released by them on April 5 of the next year.