Why Pete Rose Didn't Ruin Ray Fosse's CareerS

No list of All-Star memories is complete without Pete Rose's decision to lower the boom on Ray Fosse, single-handedly destroying the young catcher's career in 1970. Unfortunately for the enemies of hustle, that's not quite how the story goes.

It's long been conventional wisdom that Fosse's promising career was ruined by the ridiculous home plate collision that won the game for the National League, but left Fosse with a dislocated shoulder. He was a star on the rise and a great hope for the Cleveland Indians, hitting 16 home runs in what was essentially his rookie year, making the All-Star team and eventually winning a Gold Glove. Sadly, just a few short years later he was a washed-up platoon player struggling to crack the Mendoza Line—and it could all be traced back to that collision with noted jerk Peter Edward Rose.

Except that's not exactly what happened. Yes, Fosse was hurt, but he never went on the disabled list and played 42 games in the second half. (As Rose loves to remind people, he missed three games with a bruised knee.) Playing hurt, there was a noticeable dip in his power, but the next season he went to the All-Star Game again and won his second Gold Glove. His average began to tail off the next two years (72-73), but he was still a full-time starter and a more than serviceable catcher for three full seasons after the original hit.

Fosse's career really went into a tailspin in 1974, after he had been traded to the Oakland Athletics. On June 5, Reggie Jackson, as was his wont, started a clubhouse brawl with teammate Billy North. Fosse attempted to break up the fight—and broke his neck in the process. He missed the remainder of that year, struggled mightily through the next three seasons and was done with baseball by 1977. That was the injury he never recovered from.

The argument could be made that without the shoulder injury, Fosse's home runs don't decline, he's never traded to Oakland, the Indians break their World Series curse, and their superstar catcher goes to the Hall of Fame. And since his injury did happen in an All-Star Game (before it counted!) it feels especially pointless and stupid. But wasn't Reggie Jackson's behavior even more stupid? Isn't he at least as responsible for ruining Fosse's career as Rose was? Why doesn't he catch more grief? (Or the team doctors who let Fosse play hurt?) Unfortunately, we don't have footage of that fight and it isn't replayed every July to reminds us, so Rose remains the villain on this one.

On second thought ...

... what a complete jackass. It is all his fault.

Ghosts of Prospects Past: Ray Fosse [Indians Prospect Insider]
July 14, 1970: Rose crashes into Fosse in dramatic All-Star finish [Cincy Enquirer]
Bowled Over / A collision with Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game changed Ray Fosse's career [SF Chronicle]