Fosse still feels impact
Rose's handling of '70 collision annoys ex-catcher

Friday, June 5, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Pete Rose bowls over Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 1970 All-Star Game here.
(AP photo)
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The last time a Cleveland Indian made a stand on Cincinnati's riverfront, Pete Rose ran him over at home plate and sentenced Lake Erie to another two decades of doom.

It has been nearly 30 years since his crushing collision with Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse gave the National League a 5-4 victory over the American League in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star Game.

Rose, scoring from second base on Jim Hickman's single, baptized two-week old Riverfront Stadium with the play officially ushering in the Big Red Machine era.

Tonight the Indians come to town and the world is a little different. From Nixon, who threw out the first ball, to Nike.

But Rose and Fosse remain locked in irony and history.

Fosse went from being the next Johnny Bench to the next Johnny Edwards because the broken and separated left shoulder he suffered on the play wasn't revealed until the next April. He still feels stabs various times during the day.

Rose became, well, Rose. Hall-of-Famer with no Hall.

"It happened and you can't run away from it," Fosse said last week. "If he slides the conventional way, he could have avoided me. He could have tagged the plate (with his foot)."

Rose insisted last week he was going on instinct, not intent. He naturally wanted to slide head first, but he couldn't reach the plate with Fosse moving into the baseline to get the throw from center fielder Amos Otis.

"If he had said that consistently, fine," said Fosse, referring to a 1973 story in The Sporting News in which he quoted Rose saying he wouldn't have been able to talk to his father if he hadn't hit Fosse.

"He was saying that he did it on purpose. That upset me more than anything. Trying to please his father. Why say something like that?" Fosse doesn't resent the play -- "That's baseball," he said -- as much as he resents Rose's spin on July 14, 1970.

Of course, a lot of water has gone past the ballpark since then.

Riverfront Stadium lost its name to Cinergy Field and is virtually condemned. The Indians are now Ohio's Big Red Machine, with a sparkling new ballpark flying two pennants from the past three seasons.

The Reds grope in limbo with an owner who has been suspended four of the past six years. They play in a haunted house that only buzzes when ghosts come out.

Hickman, the Chicago Cub who got the winning hit that All-Star night with two out on a single to center field, is the Reds' minor-league hitting coordinator. On the play that scored Rose, Hickman remembers Clyde Wright of the Angels trying to jam him with a fastball. Wright's son, Jaret, starts for the Indians this weekend.

They will play the series on Pete Rose Way, yet Rose is banned from going to the spot of the collision because of his ban from baseball in the wake of gambling allegations. But Fosse, the man who lost his career that night, goes to 162 games a year in his 13th season as radio analyst for the Oakland Athletics.

"I wouldn't change anything," Fosse said. "I went to Oakland, won some (World Series) rings . . . There's more work in broadcasting than playing preparation-wise . . . I take great pride in my work."

Rose remembers Fosse as an eager-beaver 23-year-old he took out to dinner with Cleveland teammate Sam McDowell the night before the game. They went to a Sayler Park restaurant, then to Rose's home.

"All he wanted to do was talk about Johnny Bench. He wanted to know everything about him," Rose said. "We were up until 3 in the morning. He was a good kid.

"When I was managing the Reds, we ran into each other a few times when we were out in San Francisco. There's no animosity with Ray."


"First of all, we were all with our wives and I got in at 1 a.m.," Fosse said. "He tries to make it out like we were friends, and we weren't. Sam and I were out, we ran into Pete, he took us out.

"The rest of my career the only other time he talked to me was in Cleveland at an exhibition game the next April and he was running in the outfield. He hollered at me over the fence, asking me why I was off to a slow start."

Rose claims the play didn't ruin Fosse's career. He loves to point out Fosse started in Kansas City two nights after the play, while he missed the Reds' next series in Pittsburgh with a sore left knee.

"He had a better second half than he did a first half," Rose said.

Fosse wonders how Rose can say that. Fosse finished the season hitting .307 in 120 games, but he remembers coming to Cincinnati with 16 homers. He finished with 18. He hit 12 the next season and never matched it. In 1973, he caught 143 games for the A's and played in seven World Series games, but he hit just .256 with seven homers during the season.

"I couldn't use my left hand. I was all top hand," Fosse said. "I compensated with my right hand and screwed up my swing. Without that incident, I was on pace to hit 30 homers."

When Fosse arrived in Kansas City two days after the collision, Otis, the Royals' center fielder, couldn't believe Fosse was standing, never mind batting fourth and catching.

"I couldn't swing the bat, but they told me to just worry about handling the pitchers," said Fosse, who played with cortisone shots and pain killers. "If the bone wasn't sticking out, you played."

Terry Pluto, who chronicled the Cleveland franchise's woes in his book The Curse of Rocky Colavito, said Fosse symbolized the Indians' misery. Fosse was a No. 1 pick in the 1965 draft, ahead of Bench.

"They called him "The Mule,' and he was the kind of player a team hitched its wagon to," Pluto said. "Not a whole lot of people were saying how could they take him before Bench.

"Everybody thought the teams had two great young catchers. Here was the marquee guy the Indians had been trying to get since Colavito. They drafted him, signed him, developed him. Then he gets hurt in the All-Star Game, of all places. Instead, he became a reminder of all the ghosts that didn't pan out."

Rose arrived about two seconds before the ball did and says because he couldn't slide, he was looking to tag the plate with his hand: "If you're a catcher, you can't concentrate on two things, the runner and the ball. I would have got knocked into next week if he had the ball."

Fosse can't figure that out ("Pete's Pete," he said) because Rose had 200 pounds bearing down.

"I was in the baseline, I was reaching for the throw," Fosse said. "I never expected that to happen."

Whatever, Hickman started the whole thing.

"I didn't think it was going to be close because there were two out, but Otis had a great arm," Hickman said. "That was vintage Pete Rose. He played every game like that. To win, and we were trying to win that game. I'm sure he didn't try to injure anybody. He was just trying to score."

He scored, but not with Fosse.

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