Ep. 1964: The Frank-Howard-for-Claude-Osteen Trade

The second in a series about the biggest, greatest, blockbusteriest trades in Los Angeles Dodgers’ history.


Above is Episode 1964 in a series about the biggest, greatest, blockbusterest trades in Los Angeles Dodgers’ history.

December 4, 1964. The Frank Howard-for-Claude-Osteen trade. Or Howard, Ken McMullen, Phil Ortega, Pete Richert and Dick Nen, as the player to be named later, and $100,000 to Washington for Osteen and John Kennedy, to be precise.

The proverbial good trade for both teams, although Howard’s Senators finished as high as sixth in a 10-team American League only once and fourth in an AL East once in his eight years with the franchise, so I’m not sure how we could tell.

The 1960 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner with Los Angeles, Howard hit .268/.320/.464 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs that season, was especially good in 1962, when hit 31 homers and 119 RBIs with a .296/.347/.560 slash line, and hit .269/.326/.495 with 123 home runs and 382 RBIs over five seasons as a Dodger. And importantly, he went 3-10 with a homer off Whitey Ford in Game 4 of L.A.’s sweep of the Yankees in the 1963 World Series.

Coming into his own in the nation’s capital, the 6’ 7” Howard averaged 43 homers and 108 RBIs in the 1967 through 1970 campaigns — with 10 home runs in a week of 1968 — and recorded a .277/.367/.503 mark, with 246 bombs and 701 ribbies as a Senators outfielder, first baseman.

Osteen debuted as a 17-year-old Reds starter in 1957, pitched in Cincinnati’s major and minor league system for five years and was dealt to Washington for Dave Sisler (brother of Dick, son of George) at the end of the 1961 season. After winning 31 games with a 3.46 ERA in four years with the Senators, he too blossomed following the trade.

While many don’t care about wins and innings now, those were important numbers at the time, and in his nine full seasons in L.A., Osteen averaged 16.3 wins and 266 1/3 innings, with a 3.09 ERA, 100 complete games and 34 shutouts. The 34 shutouts is good for fifth place on the Dodgers franchise list — that’s Brooklyn and L.A. — behind only Don Sutton (52), Don Drysdale (49), Sandy Koufax (40) and Nap Rucker (who pitched from 1907 to 1916, with 38).

Speaking of shutouts, Osteen also won one of the most important games in club history, blanking the Twins on five hits in Game 3 of the 1965 World Series after Drysdale and Koufax has lost the first two in Minnesota. No team has ever come back from being down 3-0 in the World Series and only one club — Dave Roberts’ Boston Red Sox — have come back to win four straight in any postseason series, beating the Yanks in the 2004 American League Championship Series.

Osteen, who would be making Homer Bailey money if he were pitching today, also holds the fourth best ERA in World Series history (0.86), behind only Madison Bumgarner (0.25), Jack Billingham (0.36) and Harry Brecheen (0.83) and just ahead of Babe Ruth (0.87).

Third baseman McMullen, who was reacquired by Los Angeles in the famous 1972 Andy Messersmith-Billy-Grabarkewitz-Frank-Robinson-Bill-Singer-Mike-Strahler-Bobby-Valentine trade, hit .237/.291/.369 with 16 homers in six seasons as a Dodger, .251/.317/.389 with 86 HR for Washington and .248/.316/.383 with 156 homers overall in 16 big league campaigns.

Infielder Kennedy hit .227/.229/.317 in three years for Senators prior to the trade and managed only a .193/.242/.262 mark in two seasons for L.A. before being shipped to the Bronx for Jack Cullen (who?) and John Miller (who?!) in '1967.

First baseman and father of Giants reliever Robb, Nen had only 11 plate appearnances (1-8 with three walks) as a Dodger before the deal, hit .231/.295/.341 with 18 homers in four years as a Senator and .181/.225/.277 as a Cub for one season before hanging ‘em up.

Richert pitched for the Dodgers from 1962 to 1964 and again in 1972 and ‘73, with stops in Washington, Baltimore, St. Louis and Philadelphia along the way, and had a fine 13-year career, with an 80-73 record and a 3.19 ERA. Right-hander Ortega, a Dodger from 1960 to ‘64, was a regular member of the Senators’ rotation for the next four seasons and finished with a 36-62 won/loss, with a 4.43 ERA.


Howard with Bobby Murcer.


McMullen and Orlando Cepeda.





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