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Infamous home plate collision didn’t define Ray Fosse’s life

For much of Ray Fosse’s life, the moment was inescapable even though it occurred long before memes and social media came into being.

He was the recipient of one of the most violent collisions in baseball in an All-Star Game, at a time when the Midsummer Classic was a big draw. Fosse, the Cleveland Indians catcher, was doing what catchers do — blocking the plate and preparing for the impact of a thundering base runner hellbent on scoring.

The burly man barreling toward him was Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds, and the jarring collision has been shown countless times since that 1970 game, just as it has been shown again and again since Fosse’s family announced that he had died Wednesday at 74 after dealing with cancer for 16 years.

During a 12-year major league career that spanned from 1967 to 1979, Fosse won two World Series with the Oakland Athletics in 1973 and 1974. He had two stints with Cleveland and was named one of the 100 greatest Indians players of all-time by the franchise in 2001. He finished his career with brief stays with the Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers.

A two-time All-Star, Fosse caught the final three innings of the first no-hitter in MLB history involving more than two pitchers (Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers) with the A’s in 1975, and he caught Dennis Eckersley’s no-hitter with Cleveland in 1977.

After his playing career, he became a respected and popular broadcaster of A’s games, and this season was his 36th behind the mic. Ken Korach, Oakland’s radio play-by-play announcer, said the responsibility was one he took “very seriously.”

Fosse’s television broadcast partner, Glen Kuiper, said earlier this year that Fosse kept his health issues to himself.

Fosse, who hit .256 with 61 homers in 924 career games, soldiered on after that collision with Rose, although it left him with a fractured and separated left shoulder and lingering aftereffects.

“As much as it’s shown, I don’t have to see it on TV as a replay to know what happened,” Fosse told the Associated Press in 2015. “It’s fresh.”

He said in 2015 that he’d had five knee operations, two shoulder injuries that were never repaired and a stiff neck. He also had pain and arthritis, some of which was attributable to the wear and tear of catching and not just courtesy of Rose.

“My body hurts. My shoulder still hurts,” Fosse said then. “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.”

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