The Man Who Caught Rose's Shoulder : Fosse Isn't Bitter 18 Years After All-Star Game Collision Altered His Career

United Press International

Ray Fosse wonders, 18 years later, if modern attitudes and medicine would have helped him recover from an injury that damaged his career.

Fosse, one of baseball's emerging stars in 1970, was never the same after Pete Rose ran him over to end that year's All-Star game.

"It's different in 1988 than in 1970 when a player says he's hurt," said Fosse, now a broadcaster for the Oakland Athletics. I needed somebody on the Indians to tell me I was hurt and to say I shouldn't be in the lineup."

No one did, although his left shoulder hurt. Fosse struggled, particularly with his power, in the second half of '70. He hit 16 homers in the first half, but just 2 more the rest of the way. It wasn't until further X-rays the next April that it was discovered Fosse had separated and fractured the shoulder.

"By then it was too late," Fosse said. "All I could do was exercise and work with weights to strengthen it.

"I had gotten into a lot of bad habits because of the pain in the second half of '70. The first half I had finally found a real comfortable stance and swing. I was on my way to 30 homers. Maybe I could have kept on doing that. That's one thing I question and wonder what might have been."

For the first time since then, the All-Star game comes to Riverfront Stadium today, stirring memories both in Fosse and in those who saw the '70 game.

"I remember everything," Fosse said. "I remember the National League scored three runs in the ninth to tie the score. I remember the play in the 12th. Clyde Wright was the pitcher. Jim Hickman hit a single to center. Amos Otis came up with the ball, and all I could think about was getting proper position at home plate. As I was reaching for the ball, the next thing I knew I was on my back. Pete Rose had started to slide headfirst as he always did and was trying to avoid me when his momentum took him right into me. I've seen that replay so many times."

So have many baseball fans. Rose not only wiped out Fosse to score the winning run in the NL's 5-4 victory over the AL, but it became the turning point of Fosse's baseball career.

Fosse had entered the All-Star break with the look of a cornerstone player. He was 23 and starring in his first full major league season. But he would hit only 43 homers the rest of his career.

Fosse spent the night after the collision in the hospital, and X-rays showed no problem. Back in Cleveland, more X-rays were performed. Still, nothing. But Fosse was unable to lift his left arm past shoulder height.

"We went to Kansas City to start the second half of the season, and I figured I'd get some time off," Fosse said. "Well, I didn't get time off. I was hitting fourth and catching."

Fosse indicated today's managers may have progressed past the point of requiring players to show a macho front while hurt.

"For example, Tony LaRussa is a conservative manager who will rest players if they're not 100%," Fosse said. "Continuing to play was probably the worst thing I ever did.

"As it was, I never hit more than 12 homers in a season again."

In 1973, Fosse was traded to Oakland and was part of three division-winning teams and two World Series champions. He moved back to Cleveland in 1976 and finished his career with Milwaukee in 1979.

"The way I look at it is I played nine more years, so it didn't ruin my career," said Fosse, 41. "If I had not played any more then it would be different, maybe I'd be bitter."

Fosse insists he has no regrets about the play, nor any animosity toward Rose. "You had two similar type players, very aggressive," Fosse said. "My job was to prevent the run. I had to position myself. I'd have been a bigger fool if I looked at the player instead of the ball. I had to come up the line to make the play. If I would have stood on home plate, nothing would have happened, but it would have been the wrong place to be. Eighteen years later, I know I made the right play.

"It's become part of baseball history because of who was involved, a sure-bet Hall of Famer like Pete Rose, and that it happened in All-Star game. His career was much more than the collision, and so was mine. I played on a couple of league champions and World Series champions. But it's what I'll be remembered for."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
66°