Ray Fosse
The infamous play (Bettmann/Corbis)

Let’s start this off by saying, the All-Star game for any sport is worthless, meaningless, and in some cases, even dangerous. Catcher Ray Fosse knows this all too well, and his career took a hit -literally and figuratively- as a result. Though not as sad as others on the list, he falls into the category of players who had a traumatic experience, and never fully recovered from it.

Ray Fosse certainly made Cleveland Indians fans excited once he earned the starting job for the 1970 season. His first half was strong and as a result, began to establish himself as one of the best catchers of the American League. He earned a trip to his first career all-star game hitting .306 with 16 home runs and 46 runs batted in. It all seemed like a dream for Fosse up to this point.

That year’s all-star game took place in Cincinnati at Riverfront Stadium. There were a few interesting things about this game. It has the distinction of being the first all-star game played at night in baseball history, but this still wasn’t the most interesting thing to occur on this fateful night.

During the early seventies, the big red machine dominated baseball. Players such as Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez composed their juggernaut offense. All these guys appeared for the National League All-star team in 1970, the team Fosse was catching against.

Ray Fosse did not start the game. He was called upon later, as the game went into extra innings. Fosse had been behind the plate since the fifth inning. Now it was the 12th and the National League had men on with Pete Rose standing at second. Rose had a knack for being overly aggressive. So, when NL batter Jim Hickman hit a line drive up the middle, Rose was off to the races for that winning run. The throw came into home, Fosse blocked the plate, and Rose barreled into him. The NL won the game 5-4.

But the game was no win. Roses’ hit severely injured Fosse and it was a lot worse than what people initially thought. Ray suffered a fractured and completely separated shoulder. Fosse played somewhat for the rest of the year through this injury, but his shoulder never fully healed correctly.

The rest of Fosse’s career was a downslide, batting injuries in the most unfortunate occurrences. One injury consisted of his hand getting cut during a brawl with the Tigers. This required stitches. Another was in 1976 Spring Training, when he stepped into a gopher hole, injuring his knee, requiring surgery, and missing the rest of the season.

Between 1971-79, Fosse only appeared in 751 games in total. The 1970s were no friend to him. What irks me is Pete Roses’ overaggressiveness in a meaningless All-Star game. This game should not be taken seriously and it was a mistake to have it ever determine home field advantage for the World Series. It cost a talented catcher his career.

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