Jim Hickman, Claude Osteen: Two 1970 All-Star Game Memories

Did "Gentleman Jim" ever smile while at bat?
Did “Gentleman Jim” ever smile while at bat?

I watch the All-Star Game yearly.

The first Mid-Season Classic I remember was from 1970.

That’s why I was delighted that Jim Hickman and Claude Osteen each shared their moments with me.

These two letters are worth an encore.

Claude Osteen Had The Designated Hitter Blues

“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

1970 All-Star Claude Osteen, Pinch-Runner?



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.

Pitcher Claude Osteen Shares Lessons of Dodger Teammates Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale



(Courtesy Mark Langill, Team Historian, Los Angeles Dodgers)

 Pitcher Claude Osteen overwhelmed me with his reply. His was a letter filled with the insights of a winner.

 I related to him the amazing conversation I overheard before a 1980s AAA game in Tacoma. Coach Osteen chatted with young pitchers in the bullpen, telling how getting your elbow “scooped” (bone chips removed) was great. I realized his passion for pitching. He was a devoted member of the Dodgers family, focused on the organization’s future.

Where did that passion and devotion come from? Did he find role models in Los Angeles? Osteen wrote:

“I learned from Koufax and Drysdale what it meant to be a Dodger and how the name was synonymous with pitching. I was embarrassed not to pitch well.”

Tomorrow: what roles did Gil Hodges and Willie Stargell play in one of Osteen’s biggest thrills?

Pitcher Claude Osteen Shares Lessons of Dodger Teammates Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale



(Courtesy Mark Langill, Team Historian, Los Angeles Dodgers)

 Pitcher Claude Osteen overwhelmed me with his reply. His was a letter filled with the insights of a winner.

 I related to him the amazing conversation I overheard before a 1980s AAA game in Tacoma. Coach Osteen chatted with young pitchers in the bullpen, telling how getting your elbow “scooped” (bone chips removed) was great. I realized his passion for pitching. He was a devoted member of the Dodgers family, focused on the organization’s future.

Where did that passion and devotion come from? Did he find role models in Los Angeles? Osteen wrote:

“I learned from Koufax and Drysdale what it meant to be a Dodger and how the name was synonymous with pitching. I was embarrassed not to pitch well.”

Tomorrow: what roles did Gil Hodges and Willie Stargell play in one of Osteen’s biggest thrills?

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