October 22, 2021

Ray Fosse, Catcher Best Known for a Collision, Dies at 74

Ray Fosse, the strong-armed catcher whose career was upended when he was bowled over by Pete Rose at the 1970 All-Star Game, died on Wednesday. He was 74.

Carol Fosse, his wife of 51 years, said in a statement online that he died after a 16-year bout with cancer. She did not say where he died.

Fosse was a budding talent for Cleveland when he made his first All-Star team as a 23-year-old in 1970. He had 16 home runs and 45 runs battled in at the All-Star break. He would go on to hit .307 that year with a career-high 18 homers; he also threw out 55 percent of attempted base stealers and won the first of two Gold Gloves.

In the 12th inning of the All-Star Game — played at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Rose’s home field — Rose barreled over Fosse to score the winning run, fracturing and separating Fosse’s left shoulder.

X-rays immediately after the incident were negative, and Fosse did not miss any playing time. He caught nine innings in a game at Kansas City two days after the All-Star game, even though he couldn’t lift his left arm above his head. It was later determined that his shoulder had not healed properly.

Rose was widely criticized for what many people considered unnecessarily rough play in an exhibition game. He later defended himself, saying, “There’s no sense in ever sliding into a bag if you can’t get the bag.”

Fosse made the All-Star team again in 1971. But he was never again an All-Star, and he never had a season as good as 1970 over a 12-year career with Cleveland, Oakland, Seattle and Milwaukee.

Traded to Oakland in 1973, he helped the Athletics win two World Series championships. He finished his career with a .256 batting average and 61 home runs in 924 games.

Raymond Earl Fosse was born on April 4, 1947, in Marion, Ill. He was a first-round draft pick for Cleveland in 1965 and made his major league debut two years later.

In addition to his wife, his survivors include two daughters, Nikki and Lindsey.

Fosse became a broadcaster for the Athletics in 1986 and continued working into the 2021 season.

In 2015, 40 years after the incident, Fosse told The Associated Press that he had arthritis, had endured five knee operations and had two bad shoulders that he had never fixed as well as a stiff neck.

Of course, he knew that wasn’t all from Rose’s blow at the All-Star Game. A lot of it was a result of the rigors of being a catcher.

“There was not anybody at the time to say, ‘Don’t play,’” he said. “I continued. That’s something that I take with a lot of pride.”

His collision with Rose, he once said, was “something people will continue to talk about, whether they were alive at the time or watched the video and see the result.”

“There have been some harder hits,” he added, but “just the fact it was an All-Star Game, they always vote on the All-Star Game highlights or lowlights, and that always seems to be at the top that people talk about.”

The New York Times contributed reporting.

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