Dick Bosman

This article was written by Dale Voiss

Dick Bosman finished his 11-year major-league career three games under .500. He threw a no-hitter at the age of 30, but by the age of 33 his career was over.

He was born Richard Allen Bosman on February 17, 1944, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the only son and oldest of four children born to George and Nella (Kloet) Bosman. Kenosha is a Lake Michigan town of about 90,000 people that lies between Milwaukee and Chicago. His father was a farmer; his mother stayed home and raised the children. George Bosman later gave up farming and went to work for a trucking firm in Kenosha.

Dick grew up in Kenosha, where his father was a very good fast-pitch softball pitcher. George’s prowess was so well known that a baseball field in Kenosha was named after him and his uncle Clarence, also a pitcher. George – the greatest early baseball influence that Dick had – had a dream that his son would one day be a major-league pitcher and did what he could to help him get there. Several sources list Dick as a cousin of major leaguer Duane Kuiper, a Racine, Wisconsin, native. Bosman said that while a relationship exists, it is no closer than third cousin.

Another early influence on Bosman was his high-school coach, Andy Smith, who also coached Little League. Dick pitched for the Bradford High School Red Devils and started in the 1962 state championship game, losing 2-0 on two unearned runs. One of Bosman’s high-school teammates, Lance Tobert, a pitcher, signed with the Orioles but never pitched in the major leagues.1

Bosman received no scholarship offers from major colleges like the University of Wisconsin, and felt he would have if his high-school grades had been better. He did receive several offers from major-league clubs and opted to sign with Pittsburgh Pirates scout Paul Tretiak. Bosman decided to delay his professional baseball career by a year, however, and attend UW-Parkside, an extension of the University of Wisconsin located in Kenosha. Meanwhile he played for a semipro team in Kenosha in the summer of 1962.

After a year at Parkside, Bosman decided it was time to begin his pro career. He spent the 1963 season pitching Rookie League ball for the Kingsport (Tennessee) Pirates of the Appalachian League. That December, Bosman was chosen by the Giants in the first-year player draft. He reported to spring training with the major-league club in 1964. While he was impressive, he was one of nine pitchers cut in late March, near the end of camp. Bosman was sent to the Class-A Lexington (North Carolina) Giants of the Western Carolinas League.

The 20-year-old Bosman pitched in 35 games for Lexington, including nine starts. His 3.21 ERA apparently caught someone’s attention, as the Washington Senators chose him in the December 1964 minor-league draft.  Bosman spent the 1965 season pitching for York, Pennsylvania, the Senators’ affiliate in the Double-A Eastern League, and after the season he pitched in the Florida Instructional League. During his stint there he combined with Dick Loun to no-hit the Reds’ entry in the league. Based on his time in the Instructional League, Bosman received an invitation to the Senators’ big-league camp in 1966 as a nonroster invitee.

Senators manager Gil Hodges was quite impressed with Bosman in spring training, telling him he had a chance to be a good big-league pitcher. When club GM George Selkirk cut Bosman from the big-league roster in early April, Hodges told him to go back to York, have a good month, and they would bring him back up.

Bosman went to York, pitched well for about six weeks, and then got the call from the Senators. He made his major-league debut as a starter at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox on June 1, 1966. His opponent was Jim Lonborg. Bosman went 7⅓ innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits to pick up a 6-3 win.

Over the next seven weeks Bosman made 12 appearances, including six starts. He compiled a 2-6 record with a 7.78 ERA. Included in those six losses were three saves blown by the bullpen. In late July the Senators sent Bosman back to York and replaced him with York’s Barry Moore. Bosman returned to the Senators in September where he made one appearance out of the bullpen.

Bosman began the 1967 season with the Senators’ Triple-A farm club at Hawaii. He went 12-11 in 26 starts with a 2.76 ERA for the Islanders, who finished the year at 60-87. Manager Wayne Terwilliger in his biography said, “Dick’s fastball topped out at about 85 mph, so he worked hard at fine-tuning his two best pitches, a sinker and a ‘slurve.’ Whoever named that pitch got it just right – it was a combination of a slider that broke too much and a curve that didn't break enough. Bosman was managing to win despite everything, and it wasn’t long before Washington called.”2 He was promoted in August. In seven starts for the Senators, Bosman went 3-1with a 1.75 ERA. This included a five-hit blanking of the White Sox and Tommy John.

For the 1968 season the Senators replaced Gil Hodges with Jim Lemon. That year also marked the first time Bosman spent an entire season at the major-league level. He made 46 appearances, including 10 starts, going 2-9 but posting a respectable 3.69 ERA. Bosman was one of only two major-league starters that year to make double-digit starts and not throw a complete game.

Before the 1969 season the Senators replaced Lemon as manager with Ted Williams. Under Williams, Bosman flourished. This was a move that probably did as much to turn around his career as any other. Bosman credited Williams with teaching him to pitch from “above the neck.”3 

Bosman began the 1969 season by pitching 2⅓ innings of scoreless relief on Opening Day. He then alternated between the bullpen and rotation until June 18; six starts and five relief appearances. In early May, Williams said, “Dick is starting to see the light.”4 Included in that run was a 5-0 shutout of Cleveland on May 2. On June 22 Williams moved Bosman into a permanent spot in the team’s starting rotation. In 20 starts after that, Bosman went 10-3 with a 2.10 ERA. He won 14 games and lost 5 with a league-leading 2.19 ERA. His wins led the staff as the Senators had their first winning season in franchise history.

In 1970 Bosman, now 26, became the ace of the Senators pitching staff. He upped his win total from 14 to 16 even though the Senators fell from 86 wins in 1969 to 70 wins in 1970. Bosman was the only member of the pitching staff to reach double digits in wins. One highlight was a one-hitter against Minnesota on August 13. César Tovar, a noted spoiler who broke up five no-hitters in the majors, led off the game with a bunt single. Bosman allowed only one walk after that, making the single run he received in the first inning stand up. 

In the offseason the Senators picked up Denny McLain from the Detroit Tigers in an eight-player deal that cost them their second starter, Joe Coleman. McLain, a 31-game winner in 1968, went just 10-22 for Washington in 1971, leading the league in losses as he had led with 24 wins in 1969. Bosman went 12-16 with a 3.73 earned-run average. He led the Senators, who went 63-96, in wins, starts, and innings pitched.

While pitching for the Senators in 1967, Bosman met his future wife, Pam, a Washington native, whom he married in 1969. The couple had two daughters, Michelle and Nadine. They later adopted two others, Elizabeth and Amanda.

Before the 1972 season the Senators left Washington and moved to Arlington, Texas, where they became the Texas Rangers. Bosman made both the last start in Senators history and the first start in Rangers history.

In their inaugural 1972 season, the Rangers finished 54-100, the fifth 100-season loss since the advent of the expansion Senators in 1961. Ted Williams quit as manager after the season. Bosman turned in a respectable 3.63 ERA in his 29 starts, including a 1-0 three-hit shutout of the White Sox in his last start of the season. In four years under Williams, Bosman went 50-43 with a 3.15 ERA and a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Rangers began the 1973 season with Whitey Herzog replacing Williams as manager. Bosman made his fourth consecutive Opening Day start. He began the season by going 2-5. On May 10 the Rangers traded Bosman and outfielder Ted Ford to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Steve Dunning. Bosman was upset because he had spent his entire major-league career in the same organization. Friendships he developed with teammates in Cleveland eventually changed his feelings about that and he came to enjoy his time in Cleveland. He remained with the Tribe into the 1975 season. There he was joined in the starting rotation by future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. Bosman developed a great deal of respect for Perry, saying that Gaylord had some of the best stuff he ever saw a pitcher display.5

On July 19, 1974, Bosman pitched a no-hitter against the Oakland A’s, winners of the 1973 World Series. It took just 79 pitches to complete the gem, and he faced just 28 batters. The only Oakland batter to reach base was Sal Bando; Bosman fielded his swinging bunt down the third-base line but his throw pulled the first baseman off the bag and Bosman was charged with an error.

In 1975 A’s owner Charles Finley sent pitcher Blue Moon Odom to Cleveland for Bosman and fellow pitcher Jim Perry. Over the next two seasons Bosman went 15-6 in 49 games with a 3.80 ERA for the A’s. He made a brief appearance in the 1975 playoffs for the A’s.

Bosman was released by the Athletics at the end of spring training in 1977. Since his release came on March 29, it was too close to the start of the season for him to catch on with another major-league team. This left Bosman with the option of signing a minor-league contract or retiring. Despite being just 33 years old, he opted to retire.

Bosman moved to Northern Virginia, where he took a job with Johnny Koons, who owned several car dealerships. Koons had a son in Little League, so he asked Bosman to help out with coaching. This began Bosman’s nine-year association with the Little League of Northern Virginia. He also took a job for three or four years as a coach for Georgetown University. During this period Bosman developed an interest in coaching at the professional level.

In 1986 Bosman was named the pitching coach for the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo. In June 1986, White Sox GM Hawk Harrelson fired manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan. He replaced them with Jim Fregosi as manager and Bosman as pitching coach. Bosman served in this role through the 1987 season.

Before the 1988 season Bosman was approached by Orioles farm director Doug Melvin about working as a minor-league pitching instructor. He accepted and served the Orioles in that capacity from 1988 to 1991. In 1992 Johnny Oates, the Orioles’ new manager, brought Bosman aboard as the team’s pitching coach. Bosman served in this role for three seasons, and in 1995, when Oates left Baltimore to become the Rangers manager, Bosman went along. He served as the Rangers’ pitching coach through the 2000 season. During his tenure there, the Rangers won three division championships (1996, 1998, and 1999).

Before the 2001 season Bosman accepted a position with the Tampa Bay Rays as minor-league pitching coordinator, and held the position through the end of the 2011 season. Bosman said he was very proud that the Rays' major-league pitching staff was entirely homegrown, as he had directed the minor-league pitching for the past decade.

 

This article was published in "The Team That Couldn't Hit: The 1972 Texas Rangers" (SABR, 2019), edited by Steve West and Bill Nowlin.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, various other issues of The Sporting News, and the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin), June 3, 1962.

Thanks to Dick Bosman for granting the 2011 interview.

Notes

1 James Enright, “Ironman Orioles Prospect Hurls Twin-Bill Triumph for AF Team,” The Sporting News, October 12, 1968: 16.

2 Wayne Terwilliger with Nancy Peterson and Peter Boehm, Terwilliger Bunts One (Helena, Montana: Globe Pequot Press, 2006), 157.

3 Author interview with Dick Bosman on August 25, 2011.

4 Merrell Whittlesey, “Higgins Gets Big Hand as Tight-Fisted Nat Fireman,” The Sporting News, May 17, 1969: 12

5 Author interview with Dick Bosman.