MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Fosse still feels pain of All-Star collision

Forty-five years ago in Cincinnati, catcher's career and life changed by Rose's hit at plate

Fosse still feels pain of All-Star collision

CINCINNATI -- The pain still lingers with Ray Fosse.

It has been 45 years since that All-Star Game at Riverfront Stadium, the onetime home of the Reds, which was located across the street from the Reds' current home, Great American Ball Park, the host facility of this year's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile, to be played on the anniversary of that night when Cincinnati icon Pete Rose bowled over Fosse in a play at home plate.

A catcher with the Indians, Fosse's promising career was never the same. A separated and fractured shoulder, injuries that doctors didn't discover until the following season, never healed properly.

That, Fosse concedes, was just a part of the game.

"It was a different time," said Fosse. "I'm not saying it was good or bad. I was taught as a catcher to catch the ball and apply the tag."

Fosse, now a broadcaster with the Oakland A's, did apply the tag. Rose, ever the competitor, ran into Fosse headfirst, knocking the ball loose to score the game-ending run in the National League's 5-4, 12-inning victory in the ballpark that had opened just weeks before.

What eats at Fosse is that he believes Rose has improperly portrayed their relationship, as if Rose is trying to downplay the incident.

Rose has said that he, Fosse and pitcher Sam McDowell went out the night before the game and wound up at Rose's home, where they hung out until after the sun began to rise on the morning of the game. He said after the game that the two attended social events and did card-show signings together.

Fosse said he did have dinner the night before the All-Star Game with Rose and McDowell, a teammate with the Indians, who introduced him to Rose. Fosse, however, said the three men were accompanied by their wives, and that Fosse and wife Carol "called it a night by 1 a.m."

And he admits, as Rose has complained about regarding the dinner, "all [Fosse] talked about was Johnny Bench."

"I was a catcher," explained Fosse, who was 23 at the time. "Johnny Bench was a catcher and a great player. Why wouldn't I be curious about what made Johnny so special?"

The two men, however, have few other consistencies in their stories about the aftermath of the incident.

Rose has said that he was the one who suffered after the collision, and Fosse actually had a strong finish to the 1970 season. Fosse, 23 at the time, hit .307 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs that season, but only two of the home runs and 15 of the RBIs came in the 42 games he played after the All-Star break.

Fosse also said he only remembers two exchanges between himself and Rose since that night in Cincinnati.

There was an exhibition game between Fosse's Indians and Rose's Reds in 1971, and while Fosse was in the outfield during batting practice, Rose was running on the outfield warning track.

"He said, 'Hey, you're off to a slow start,'" remembered Fosse. "That's the only thing he said to me from the All-Star Game until I retired [prior to the 1980 season]. That was it. 'Hey, you're off to a slow start.'

"Sure I was. I had a fractured and separated shoulder. The pain was still there and it still is."

Medical procedures weren't as refined in 1970. There was no MRI. Fosse was examined after the collision and told there was no structural damage. It wasn't until the 1971 season, when the pain persisted, that doctors discovered the fracture and separation.

"Once it healed and healed improperly, you're not going to do much about it," Fosse said.

And there is still nothing he can do about it.

"It's like a knife stuck on my shoulder," Fosse said. "It's bone on bone. Arthritis, aging, the whole thing."

After he retired, Fosse said he saw Rose again in the late '80s when Fosse went to Candlestick Park as a visitor to see Buddy Bell, a former teammate with Cleveland, who was playing for the Reds. Rose was Cincinnati's player-manager.

"We spoke briefly," said Fosse. "The whole thing, he said I tried to block the plate. As a catcher I put myself where the ball was thrown by [outfielder] Amos Otis. I was up the line. If I stayed on home plate I would have missed the ball by three feet."

The memory lingers for Fosse. His aching shoulder won't allow him to forget.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.