D.C. Gets A New Monument

 

Swap Shop – Frank Howard for Claude Osteen

Only a desperate team would trade the ace of its pitching staff.

That’s what the Washington Senators were when they dealt left-hander Claude Osteen to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December of 1964.

Frank Howard

Frank Howard

What the Senators got, as part of the seven-player swap, was an outfielder who would emerge as one of the most dangerous sluggers of the late 1960s, the towering Frank Howard.

The Senators had been the perennial American League doormats since their introduction as a new franchise in 1961. Osteen, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in 1961, accounted for nearly one-fourth of the team’s victories in 1964, going 15-13 for a team that won only 62 games.

Howard had averaged 28 home runs and 84 RBIs for the Dodgers in the three previous seasons. But Los Angeles was looking to get back to the World Series with a team built on speed, defense and pitching. Howard was expendable, and Osteen fit the bill.

It turned out to be a trade with long-term benefits for both teams. Osteen would win 147 games over the next nine seasons with the Dodgers. He would twice win 20 games, and twice lead the National League in innings pitched.

Claude Osteen

Claude Osteen

And the six-foot-seven-inch Howard, whom Ted Williams called the strongest hitter in baseball, blossomed into one of the American League’s most prolific home run hitters. From 1967-1970, he averaged 43 home runs and 108 RBIs per season.

He was just what Washington needed – another monument to power.

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