Claude Wilson Osteen, a successful major league pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers and other teams, was born August 9 in Caney Spring, Marshall County, Tennessee. His parents, Claude and Pauline Osteen, had one other child, Peggy.
Young Claude, known locally as “Mudcat” due to his penchant for playing in mudholes, was a pitcher on baseball teams throughout his school years. He attended Forrest School, Chapel Hill, Tennessee, from grades one through nine, and during the mid-1950s he played on a county team, the Woodmen Choppers. Osteen pitched and batted left-handed. He moved to Cincinnati when he was in the tenth grade and was star pitcher on a high school baseball team there.
He began his baseball career in 1957 in Nashville with the Southern League and went to the Cincinnati Redlegs as an amateur free agent the same year. Still a teenager, Osteen started in the major leagues on July 7, 1957. Subsequently, he pitched for Wenatchee (Northwest League) and Seattle (Pacific Coast League) in 1958, returning to Cincinnati (National League) 1959-61. He went to the Washington Senators (American League) in 1961, remaining until he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers (National League) in 1965. Baseball records reflect brief sojourns with Indianapolis, Houston Astros (1974), St. Louis Cardinals, and Chicago White Sox (1975). His longest tenure on one team was with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1965 through 1973. There he rotated with fellow pitchers Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Don Sutton, forming one of the most formidable pitching staffs in baseball history, each with forty or more lifetime shutouts. In the third game of the 1965 World Series, Osteen shut out Minnesota, starting the Dodgers on their four-game championship win. The following year, he again pitched for the Dodgers in the World Series; however, the team did not take the 1966 title. In 1970, he pitched three shutout innings to win the All-Star Game, one of his three All-Star games. His final game was September 27, 1975. During his major league career, Osteen pitched 40 shutouts and won 196 games.
After retiring from the player ranks, he became a pitching coach with the Philadelphia Phillies (1982-87) and then with the Albuquerque Dukes for three years. Osteen acquired the nicknames “Wimpy” and “Gomer,” the former because he had a voracious appetite, the latter due to his physical likeness to the television character Gomer Pyle. He married Georgiana Crosby on July 29, 1962, and had five children. Osteen currently resides in Texas with his present wife, Jackie.