Ray Fosse, the strong-armed MLB catcher whose career was upended when he was bowled over by Pete Rose during the 1970 All-Star Game, has died. He was 74.
Carol Fosse, his wife of 51 years, said in a statement online that Fosse died Wednesday after a 16-year bout with cancer.
Fosse was a budding talent for Cleveland when he made his first All-Star team as a 23-year-old in 1970, the same year he hit .307 with a career-high 18 homers and won the first of two Gold Gloves while throwing out 55% of attempted base stealers.
Rose barreled over him to score the winning run in the 12th inning of the exhibition at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. Fosse fractured and separated his left shoulder, and he told The Associated Press in 2015 his body still ached 45 years later.
“As much as it’s shown, I don’t have to see it on TV as a replay to know what happened. It’s fresh,” Fosse said.
A first-round draft pick by Cleveland in 1965 from Marion, Illinois, Fosse made his second and final All-Star team in 1971 but never replicated that terrific 1970 season over a 12-year career with Cleveland, the Oakland Athletics, the Seattle Mariners and the Milwaukee Brewers.
He batted .256 with 61 homers in 924 games and helped the Athletics win the World Series in 1973 and 1974.
After his playing days were done, Fosse became a popular broadcaster for the A’s, beginning in 1986, and he worked through part of the 2021 season.
“The Oakland A’s are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Ray Fosse,” the team said in a statement on Wednesday. “Few people epitomize what it means to be an Athletic more than Ray. He was the type of franchise icon who always made sure every player, coach, colleague, and fan knew that they were part of the A’s family. We send our deepest condolences to Carol, Nikki and Lindsey, his family, and friends during this difficult time. We’ll miss you, Ray.”
Fosse told the AP in 2015 that he had pain and arthritis, endured five knee surgeries, had two bum shoulders he never had fixed and a stiff neck.
Of course, he knew that wasn’t all from Rose’s blow at the All-Star Game. A lot of that was a result of the rigors of being a catcher.
“My body hurts. My shoulder still hurts,” Fosse said. “There was not anybody at the time to say, ‘Don’t play.’ I continued. That’s something that I take with a lot of pride.”
Two days after the 1970 All-Star Game, Fosse caught nine innings in a win at the Kansas City Royals. He couldn’t lift his left arm above his head.
“That’s something people will continue to talk about, whether they were alive at the time or watched the video and see the result,” Fosse said.
“There have been some harder hits. 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.”
Cleveland also released a statement after Fosse’s death.
“The Cleveland Indians family is deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Fosse, a true fan favorite who loved wearing a Cleveland Indians uniform. He was so proud to be our top draft pick in 1965. We extend our deepest sympathy to the entire Fosse family, as well as his many teammates, Major League broadcast colleagues and the organizations impacted by his nearly 60 years in the game he loved,” said Bob DiBiasio, senior vice president of public affairs.