|“Let me hit, Chuck, puleeze!”|
Claude Osteen finished his career overlooked by “progress.”
When he moved to the American League in 1975, he could put his feet up. No more hitting worries. That’s what the designated hitter did.
Osteen didn’t see it that way! He wrote:
“I loved hitting, thought of myself as a good hitter. I took pride in it and worked on hitting a lot.
I did not like the DH because usually I would be responsible, either directly or indirectly with my bat, in five extra wins per year. Directly meaning, driving in the run. Indirectly meaning, bunting the runner into scoring position or advancing the runners via hit and run.”
Check out his lifetime batting stats. More than 200 career hits. The walks he drew. The sacrifice bunts. The White Sox never gave him even one chance at the plate. If manager Chuck Tanner had known! I think today’s managers would keep Claude busy as a pinch-hitter.
Tomorrow: my memories of Seattle’s Dave Niehaus
|Osteen’s classic pose,
year after year!
Who would have won this footrace: Willie Stargell or Claude Osteen?
Pitcher. Pinch-runner. They sound a bit related. And Claude did have two stolen bases in his previous 12 seasons.
Such mystery and spectacle surrounded the 1970 All-Star Game. Osteen remembered:
“A bit of trivia. I got into the ’70 All-Star game as a pinch-runner for Willie Stargell, who had walked. I stayed in the game to pitch three shutout innings. One of my biggest thrills.
Gil Hodges used me a pinch-runner because he wanted the pitcher in that slot in the batting order.”
Bashful Osteen never mentioned that his scoreless work in the 10th through 12th innings paved the way for the senior circuit’s 5-4 win, crediting the Tennessee native with the victory.
Tomorrow: From moundsman to batsman — Claude Osteen challenges the DH rule.