OAKLAND, Calif. — Ray Fosse, the heavily armed MLB catcher whose career was turned upside down when he was overthrown by Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game, has died. He was 74.
Carol Fosse, his wife of 51, said in an online statement that Fosse died Wednesday after a 16-year battle 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 home runs and won the first of two gold gloves while throwing out 55% of attempted base stealers.
Rose stormed over him and scored the winning run in the 12th inning of the Exhibition at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. Fosse broke and severed his left shoulder, and he told The Associated Press in 2015 that his body still ached 45 years later.
“As much as it’s shown, I don’t have to watch it on TV as a rerun 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 great 1970 season during a 12-year career with Cleveland, the Oakland Athletics, the Seattle Mariners and the Milwaukee Brewers.
He hit .256 with 61 home runs in 924 games and helped the Athletics win the World Series in 1973 and 1974.
After his playing days were over, Fosse became a popular broadcaster for the A’s from 1986, working through part of the 2021 season.
“The Oakland A’s are heartbroken to learn of Ray Fosse’s passing,” the team said in a statement on Wednesday. Few people embody 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 they were part of the family of de A. We extend our deepest condolences to Carol, Nikki and Lindsey, his family and friends at this difficult time. We will miss you, Ray.”
Fosse told the AP in 2015 that he had pain and arthritis, had five knee surgeries, had two back shoulders that he never fixed, and a stiff neck.
Of course, he knew that wasn’t all of Rose’s blow at the All-Star Game. Much of that was the result of the rigors of being a catcher.
“My body hurts. My shoulder still hurts,” Fosse said. “There was no one then who said, ‘Don’t play.’ I kept going. That’s something I’m very proud of.”
Two days after the 1970 All-Star Game, Fosse caught nine innings in a win at the Kansas City Royals. He couldn’t raise his left arm above his head.
“That’s something that people will continue to talk about whether they were alive or watched the video and see the result,” Fosse said.
“There have been some harder hits. Just because it was an All-Star Game, they always vote for the highlights or lowlights of the All-Star Game, and that always seems to be the top that people talk about.”
Cleveland also released a statement following 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 pick in 1965. We extend our deepest condolences to the entire Fosse family, as well as his many teammates, broadcasts from Major League colleagues and the organizations influenced by his nearly 60 years in the game he loved,” said Bob DiBiasio, senior vice president of public affairs.
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