Osteen selected to Dodger Fans Hall of Fame

Claude Osteen has been selected 2004 inductee into the Dodger Fans Hall of Fame by the fans themselves, including interested voters from both Dodgers Dugout and on LADugout.com. It is the 25th season that the award has been presented.

The Dodgers suffered their fourth rainout, the third on the road, Saturday night against the Washington Nationals. They host Atlanta on Sunday, March 27

Osteen was the fourth member of a brilliant starting staff throughout most of his career in Los Angeles. But no matter how hard one looked, ne could get only a glimpse of the talented lefthander because the spotlight was on Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres who were in the same rotation.

But Osteen, or "Gomer" as he was called by his teammates, was as steady as he was talented and if the fans sometimes overlooked it, baseball people knew very well that the left-hander would give a quality start each time he was handed the ball.

Osteen was obtained in 1965 in a deal that sent outfielder Frank Howard, first baseman Dick Nen and pitchers Phil Ortega and Pete Richert to the Washington Senators.

Many fans were upset with the deal that swapped a young powerhouse in Howard, 1963 pennant-saviour in Nen and two pretty good young arms for a pitcher that had only once won more games that he had lost—and then by only a 15-13 margin.

Osteen came to Los Angeles with a 35-42 record after Howard had smashed 123 home runs for the Dodgers in only 624 games, including a one-handed shot in the 1963 World Series sweep of the Yankees that was still being admired two years later.

However, the Dodgers finished the 1964 season with only two pitchers over the .500 mark (Drysdale and Koufax), and Koufax had been felled by a mysterious finger ailment that threatened a finger on his most talented left hand.

Knowing that pitching was the glue that held the franchise in the race each year, Dodger officials had no second thoughts about making the swap with Washington, knowing that until Osteen appeared on the mound, they were in for some heat from the fans.

The trade was an exceptional one for both clubs. For Los Angeles because Osteen became a remarkably consistent pitcher on a staff marked with consistency. He joined to-be Hall of Famers' Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the starting rotation along with veteran Johnny Podres and bullpen aces Jim Brewer and Ron Perranoski. And Howard thundered through the American League for the next nine seasons, smashing 259 home runs, including a three-year string of 44-48-44, and ringing up 737 runs batted in.

Twice Osteen won 20 games for Los Angeles, in 1969 and 1972, on teams that were certainly not pennant condenders, and he led the club in games won in 1967 (17), 1969, 1970 (16), and 1972 (20). And of inestimable importance, he led or tied for the club leadership in games started in six of seven years: 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1973.

He made 335 starts during his nine seasons in Dodger Blue and was listed on the Los Angeles all-time top ten charts in wins, losses, games, games started, strikeouts, complete games, innings pitched, shutouts and earned run average.

Blessed with outstanding control, he walked only 568 in 2,397 innings, or 2.13 per nine innings. His mark of 1.62 walks per nine innings in 1967 ranked fourth on the all-time L.A. list and his 1.81 in 1970 was eighth on the chart when he was traded to Houston.

Series record
Although during each season his steady work seemed to be overshadowed by teammates, Osteen sparkled when the spotlight shifted to the World Series. He was brilliant in the 1965 and 1966 series, recording a miniscule 0.86 earned run average over three games and 21 innings. The mark is still the best in the history of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles franchise.

His key victory in the third game of the 1965 series stopped the Twins after they had won the first two games in Minnesota and it was instrumental in the Dodger World Series victory.

After Drysdale (by 8-2) and Koufax (5-1) lost thei starts in Metropolitan Stadium, the clubs returned to Dodger Stadium and Osteen got the call in the crucial third game. He had been 5-0 against the Twins while pitching for Washington but Minnesota had quickly switched the series odds from the Dodgers to themselves.

"Gomer" reversed the series momentum, checking the Twins 4-0 with a classic five-hitter, striking out only a pair but walking none. He also started in the sixth game, allowing only two runs, one earned, in five innings but he ran into a tough Mudcat Grant, lost a 5-1 decision, and finished the series 1-1 with a 0.64 earned run average. Koufax shut out the Twins for the second time in the seventh game to make the Dodgers World Champions.

Osteen also drew a start in the ill-fated 1966 World Series against Baltimore and although he allowed only a single run in seven innings, Paul Blair's homer in the fifth, he was tagged with a 1-0 loss as Wally Bunker tossed a 6-hit shutout for the Orioles.

His last win for Los Angeles came on August 28, 1973 when he topped Montreal 6-1. He allowed five hits in six innings and fanned a pair. Garvey slugged a homer in the victory, while Willie Crawford and Russell had a pair of hits each.

On December 6, 1973 Osteen was traded to Houston along with minor league pitcher Dave Culpepper for the "Toy Cannon," outfielder Jimmy Wynn. Claude finished his 18 year major league career two years later, with 196 victories. Wynn would smash 32 home runs, score 104 and drive home 108 in 1974 as the Dodgers earned another pennant.

Osteen recorded 147 wins in a Dodger uniform, seventh on the all-time charts, before moving to Houston, St. Louis and Chicago. He won 10 or more games over 10 straight seasons and is a very worthy recipient of the Dodger Fans Hall of Fame award.

Previous inductees
2003 - Fernando Valenzuela
2002 - Clem Labine
2001 - Preacher Roe
2000 - Tommy Davis
1999 - Willie Davis
1998 - Ron Cey
1997 - Steve Garvey
1996 - Don Sutton
1995 - Johnny Podres
1994 - Bill Kennedy and Jake Daubert
1993 - Whitlow Wyatt
1992 - Carl Erskine
1991 - Nap Rucker
1990 - Jim Gilliam and Eddie Stanky
1989 - Hugh Casey and Maury Wills
1988 - Carl Furillo and Willie Keeler
1987 - Leo Durocher and Don Newcombe
1986 - Walter Alston and Wilbert Robinson
1985 - Dolph Camilli and Don Drysdale
1984 - Gil Hodges and Pete Reiser
1983 - Burleigh Grimes and Duke Snider
1982 - Pee Wee Reese and Dixie Walker
1981 - Roy Campanella and Dazzy Vance
1980 - Babe Herman, Sandy Koufax,
Jackie Robinson and Zach Wheat

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories