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?

Pitcher Gary Kroll ‘Balks’ At Ump Jocko Conlan

Don’t believe everything you read.

Oops! I mean, don’t believe what you read ELSEWHERE.

In the book The Ballplayers, pitcher Gary Kroll suffers from a biased bio note:

“As a nervous ML rookie, however, he committed a league-leading four balks in just 24 innings.”

Hmmm…I wrote to Kroll, wanting his side of the story. He replied with some juicy insights, including:

“I was trying to use a move that Art Mahaffey used with great success, but it didn’t work too good for me. Jocko Conlan was one of the umps that called a balk on me.

I said, ‘Jocko, Drysdale (Don) uses the same move and you don’t call a balk on him.’

He said, ‘Yeah, but he does it faster.’

What!!! I think his name being Drysdale had something to do with him getting away with it.”

I noted Kroll beat future Hall of Famer on April 18, 1965. Before a home Shea Stadium crowd, Kroll yielded just four hits while getting two of his own. His memories?

“It was raining and I was better than Gaylord that day, even though he had Mays and McCovey on his team. he tried to bust a couple of fastballs by me and I turned them around.”

Kroll topped 300 strikeouts in one minor league season. He recalls his first K in the majors with an ironic footnote:

“Gordon Richardson with the Cardinals. The same Gordon Richardson that teamed up with me to no-hit the Pirates in the spring of ’65. Go to www.metsnohitters.com website.”

I closed my letter, stating:

“My ‘career’ ended in Little League. However, I can close my eyes and I’m back on the field again — like it was yesterday.”

Kroll wrote…

“I know what you mean. So do I!”

Thanks to www.retrosheet.org for the game account!

Don Drysdale’s Inside Pitch to Collectors


Don Drysdale saw the humor in autographs.

Mickey Mantle once said:

“I hated to bat against Drysdale. After he hit you he’d come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, ‘Do you want me to sign it?'”

Before Drysdale’s 1993 death, he ended a years-long willingness to sign free through the mail. His 3-by-5 offer read…

Dear Baseball Fan:

Due to the increase in overhead (office space, secretarial service, postage and so on), from now on, it will be necessary to have a service charge of $3 per signature. No personal checks accepted.

Thank you for your understanding.

Don Drysdale

There was no pretense of an unnamed charity. Likewise, he didn’t rage about collectors who’ve sold his autograph and exploited his kindness. Additionally, he didn’t close the door like Andy Messersmith or Bill White, saying NO to all TTM collectors.

To the end, Double D was a no-nonsense guy dealing with hitters and collectors.

Meet The Man Who Stopped Don Drysdale


Howie Bedell made the most of his second chance in baseball.

The 1968 Phillies used the Pennsylvania native for a mere nine games. But Bedell’s only RBI became a record breaker. His sacrifice fly shattered Don Drysdale’s epic 58-inning streak of scoreless baseball.

Bedell’s beginnings in pro ball date back to 1957. By 1961, he feasted on AAA pitchers, creating a record 43-game hitting streak in the American Association. The following year, he fought for playing time in a crowded Milwaukee Braves outfield.

Bedell toiled back in the minors for five more seasons, a Crash Davis-like, Bull Durham-type character. What kept him going?

His inspiring reply began with five powerful words:

“The love of the game.”

Bedell managed in the Phillies minor league system from 1969 through 1974. Who is he proudest of among the young talents he helped shape?

“Great question. I had many major league players. However, I always believed every player was my best.”

That philosophy carried Bedell through work as the Royals Coordinator of Instruction from 1981 through 1986, into service as a Mariners coach in 1988 and a stint as Cincinnati’s Director of Player Development, beginning in 1990.

“The game has always meant a great deal to me — and always will. So much I could write.”

Let’s hope baseball history writes more about Bedell. Those memories sound like choice collectibles.

Check out Baseball Almanac’s fine summation of Bedell’s minor league managerial career.

%d bloggers like this: