Earlier this week, many Americans (myself included) celebrated President’s Day with a solid three day weekend. While the day off from teaching was nice, it’s time to share a little regarding some of America’s former leaders. To do so, I have hand selected a few answers from a questionnaire I sent former Dodgers pitcher Claude Osteen a couple of years ago. Enjoy!
One of my favorite baseball traditions involves US presidents throwing out ceremonial first pitches. I think it speaks directly to the inevitable link between the history of sports and America. Seeing as you played in Washington D.C. for several seasons, you were lucky enough to have been a part of this tradition. Were you present in 1962 when JFK threw out the first pitch (not to be confused with your teammate, John Kennedy, of course)?
Yes I was and it was an exciting day. The president came into our clubhouse and shook hands with almost everyone. He was very impressive.
In 1964, Lyndon Johnson was scheduled to throw out the first pitch of the season as the Senators faced the Angels. Interestingly enough, you were privileged to open the season (and the game) with the number one spot in the rotation (a game you likely could have won if the offensive lineup had provided more than one hit throughout the duration of the game). First off, how did it feel to be named the Opening Day starter? What was the mood of the clubhouse knowing that President Johnson would be attending and throwing out the first pitch?
It’s always special to pitch an opener and in Washington, D.C. it’s probably more so than anywhere else. Incidentally, I believe I got the only hit.
(And after checking the box score, Claude was 100% correct. He registered a double in the bottom of the first.)
Were you a witness to any other significant moments of history that I might have missed?
I’ve been lucky – I coached (Steve) Carlton when he won his 300th and also 2 of his Cy Youngs. I saw (Mike) Schmidt hit his 500th HR. I saw (Maury) Wills steal 104 bases. And then I was on the same team with (Lou) Brock when he broke the record. I won a World Series game and an All-Star game. I also won 20 games twice. Finally, I had 2 more Cy Young winners in Steve Bedrosian and John Denny.
And finally, what has life after baseball looked like for Claude Osteen?
Today, life is great – family golf, etc.
Thanks again to Mr. Osteen for his generosity in answering a few questions!