Whenever an article or analysis is written on Ray Fosse’s career, the first thing that comes into focus is the violent run-in with Pete Rose on the decisive play of the all-star game of 1970. Of course that play was impressive, exciting, or engaging. , was used to host the broadcast of various baseball events throughout the 1970s and beyond, but Fosse was much more than the catcher who was run over by Pete Rose in that infamous play. When the news of Fosse’s death was known this Wednesday, October 13, 2021, there were declarations of regret among the players and the management of the Oakland Athletics, with whom Fosse was crowned champion of the World Series in 1973 and 1974, also of the Cleveland Indians, with whom he established himself in the major leagues and won two gold gloves, in addition to receiving the no-hitter, no-run game from Dennis Eckersley in his second stint with Cleveland, and surely the survivors of the board and the players of the Navegantes del Magallanes also had words of regret for the catcher of their champion team of the 1969-70 season and the 1970 Caribbean Series.
That all-star game had come evenly at the end of the twelfth inning and Rose packed towards the plate with the intensity and aggressiveness that characterized him, you could foresee that there would be a blow, what many people did not imagine was that Rose would charge so ruthlessly on the humanity of Fosse. He looked like a rabid bull wanting to knock down a wall.
Fosse came to the Athletics on March 24, 1973 when the Athletics owner sent Dave Duncan and George Hendrick to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Fosse and Jack Heidemann. That 1973 season, Fosse would hit .256 in 492 at-bats, 7 home runs, 52 RBIs and 37 runs. The Athletics won the AL West division with a 94-68 record and faced the Baltimore Orioles, who still had Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and Jim Palmer in their pitching staff, in the fifth and decisive game, staging the October 11 at the Oakland Coliseum. Fosse was Jim Catfish Hunter’s catcher who beat Doyle Alexander 3-0 who was relieved by Palmer in the fourth inning. Fosse scored the first run in the third inning on error, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Joe Rudi’s hit to the left. Field Al Bumbry stole a base in the first inning, and he put out Paul Blair at second base on an attempted steal in the second inning. On October 13 in the first game of the World Series held at the aforementioned Coliseum, Fosse established the pitching plan with winner Ken Holtzman and relievers Rollie Fingers and Darold Knowles (scored save) to lead the Athletics to a victory 2 -1 over the New York Mets and Jon Matlack. In the seventh game of that World Series, on October 21, Fosse started the game on the bench, but in the seventh inning manager Dick Williams called on him to put on the catcher implements to impersonate Gene Tenace and lead the relievers. Fingers and Knowles (saved) preserve Holtzman’s victory and the World Series title.
The aforementioned 1970 all-star game had reached the close of the twelfth inning. After two outs, Pete Rose and Bill Grabarkewitz hit singles, when Jim Hickman unloaded another hit, Rose pushed forward until he looked like a stray train, you could understand Rose’s intense style of play and the adrenaline of the moment, however it seemed that he could score without even brushing against Fosse, who was waiting for the ball in front of home plate.
In the 1974 season, Fosse just hit .196, 4 homers, 23 RBIs, 20 runs. That year he went six weeks without playing due to a cervical vertebra injury caused by breaking up a fight between his teammates Bill North and Reggie Jackson at a game in Detroit. In Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Fosse and Ken Holtzman devised the pitching plan to shut out the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 on October 6, again at the Coliseum. In the eighth inning with Oakland leading 2-0 and two runners on, Fosse homered off reliever Grant Jackson to secure the game. On October 8, in Game 3 of the championship series, Fosse was behind the plate to guide Vida Blue to pitch a two-hitter, walk-out, 7-strikeout game. In the seventh inning he put out Don Baylor at second base in an attempted steal. Oakland won 1-0 with a homerun by Sal Bando. Fosse also received shipments from Catfish Hunter (winner) and Rollie Fingers (saved) on October 9 in a 2-1 win over the Orioles that saw the Athletics move to the World Series. On October 12, in Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium, Fosse supported Holtzman, Fingers (winner) and Catfish Hunter (saved) from the plate in a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers and Andy Messersmith. For Game 3, at the Colosseum, Fosse teamed up again with Hunter (winner) and Fingers (saved) to give the Athletics a 3-2 victory. In Game 5, October 17, Fosse led Vida Blue, Blue Moon Odom (winner) and Rolie Fingers in a 3-2 victory that gave them their third World Series title in a row. In the second inning he homered off Don Sutton to lead his team to a 2-0 win.
On May 30, 1977, Dennis Eckserley pitched no hits or runs as the Cleveland Indians beat the California Angels 1-0 at Municipal Stadium. With the catcher implements, behind the plate Ray Fosse coordinated the pitching sequence of Eckersley, who only walked one in the first inning to Tony Solaita, the other running back was Bobby Bonds in the eighth inning by wild pitch after striking out. Eckersley declared on social networks upon learning of the death of Fosse, that he had been a friend and advisor in and out of the park, tactfully when suggesting a launch.
During the first weeks of the 1969-70 season, there was uncertainty in the Navegantes del Magallanes dugout because Walter Hriniak had not performed like the previous season and they needed an established catcher to ensure the team’s competitiveness. Management brought in Ray Fosse who was coming off a just 37-game season with the Cleveland Indians. As the games progressed, the uncertainty of the fans began to disappear before the dynamic and intelligent game of the American receiver. He soon managed to communicate with the pitching staff and was a partner in the great performances of Dick Baney, Johnny Morris, Orlando Peña, Jay Ritchie, Don Eddy, rookie Gregorio Machado who was the star reliever that year. His big arm and proper footwork allowed him to draw players on the bases and block pitches to the ground. In the playoff semifinals he was able to receive all 14 innings of a victory against the Tigres de Aragua, and then in the fifth game he was also key on the field and with the wood. Then in the final series against the mighty La Guaira Sharks he communicated seamlessly with Orlando Peña and Donald Eddy in the first two shutout wins, and then in the championship game he guided Jay Ritchie to a 2-1 victory. In the Caribbean Series it was also essential, he called the game of an unstoppable by Jay Ritchie against the Togres de Licey (Dominican Republic) in which only one ticket separated them from the perfect game. And in the decisive game against the Ponce Lions, he participated in the play that perhaps decided the series, when Dámaso Blanco took the touch of squeeze play from Santos Alomar and came running towards the plate to throw the ball to Fosse who stood with all his cold blood to make out Jorge Roque who came with all his intensity.
All that film passed before the eyes of those who followed Fosse’s career, this Thursday, October 14, when reading on the internet that the wife of former player Carol Fosse had reported with regret the death of that receiver, after a long battle with cancer , who was playing the rest of that 1970 season with a broken collarbone and a severed left shoulder. He even came with Magellan to play in the 1970-71 season. Even after that injury, Fosse was able to remain among the top receivers in the American League in the first half of the 1970s.
Alfonso L. Tusa C. October 16, 2021. ©
__ Ray Fosse barreled by Rose at ’70 All-Star game, dies at 74. Associated Press.
__ An Interview with Ray Fosse. https://www.athleticsnation.com/2011/8/28/2390118/an-interviews-ray-fosse.
__ Sport Graphic Magazine.
__ El Nacional newspaper.
__ Meridian Journal.
__ El Universal newspaper.