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Ray Fosse, all-star catcher and longtime baseball broadcaster, dies at 74

Former catcher Ray Fosse in 2015.
Former catcher Ray Fosse in 2015. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Ray Fosse, a strong-armed catcher and two-time all-star who was on the receiving end of one of the most famous home-plate collisions in baseball history when he was bowled over by Pete Rose at the 1970 All-Star Game, died Oct. 13. He was 74.

Carol Fosse, his wife of 51 years, said in a statement online that her husband died after a 16-year bout with cancer. He lived in Northern California and had retired after 35 years as an announcer with the Oakland Athletics.

Mr. Fosse was a budding talent for Cleveland when he made his first all-star team as a 23-year-old in 1970. That year, he hit .307 with a career-high 18 homers and won the first of two Gold Gloves while throwing out 55 percent of attempted base stealers.

Rose barreled over Mr. Fosse to score the winning run in the 12th inning of the game at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. Mr. Fosse fractured and separated his left shoulder, telling the Associated Press in 2015 that his body still ached 45 years later.

“As much as it’s shown, I don’t have to see it on TV as a replay to know what happened,” he said. “It’s fresh.”

Raymond Earl Fosse was born April 4, 1947, in Marion, Ill. He was a first-round draft pick by Cleveland in 1965 and made his major league debut in 1967. His first full year in the majors came in 1970, followed by a second all-star season in 1971, when he won another Gold Glove for his outstanding work behind the plate. He retired in 1979 after playing parts of 12 seasons with Cleveland, Oakland, Seattle and Milwaukee.

He helped the Athletics win the World Series in 1973 and 1974 and had a career batting average of .256 with 61 home runs.

After his playing days were done, Mr. Fosse became a popular broadcaster for the A’s beginning in 1986. He was a color commentator on both radio and television before retiring early in the 2021 season.

“Few people epitomize what it means to be an Athletic more than Ray,” the team said in a statement. “He was the type of franchise icon who always made sure every player, coach, colleague, and fan knew that they were part of the A’s family.”

In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters.

Mr. Fosse told the Associated Press in 2015 that he had pain and arthritis, endured five knee surgeries, had two bum shoulders he never had fixed, and a stiff neck. He recognized that the injuries were not entirely the result of Rose’s blow at the All-Star Game but also came from the rigors of being a catcher.

“My body hurts. My shoulder still hurts,” he said. “There was not anybody at the time to say, ‘Don’t play.’ I continued. That’s something that I take with a lot of pride.”

Two days after the 1970 All-Star Game, Mr. Fosse caught nine innings in a win at Kansas City. He couldn’t lift his left arm above his head.

“There have been some harder hits,” Mr. Fosse said. “Just the fact it was an All-Star Game, they always vote on the All-Star Game highlights or lowlights, and that always seems to be at the top that people talk about.”

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