Ray Fosse, All-Star catcher and Athletics announcer, dead at 74

OAKLAND, Calif. — Ray Fosse, an All-Star catcher and two-time World Series champion whose promising career was curtailed when he was bowled over by Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star game, died of cancer on Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics announced. He was 74.

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Fosse played for back-to-back World Series champions in Oakland during the 1973-74 seasons. The team confirmed his death on social media.

Fosse had been a broadcaster on radio and television for the Athletics since 1986 and stepped down from his duties in August after publicly revealing his cancer, KPIX reported.

Fosse’s family also confirmed the former catcher’s death.

“It is with a heavy heart that Carol Fosse, Ray Fosse’s wife of 51 years, shares the sad news that Ray Fosse lost his battle to cancer on Oct. 13, 2021, after silently fighting it for the past 16 years,” Fosse’s family said. “Carol and daughters, Nikki and Lindsey, send their love out to family, friends and fans that mourn his loss with them.”

“Few people epitomize what it means to be an Athletic more than Ray,” the Athletics 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 Oakland A’s family.”

Fosse was best known as a player for his time in Cleveland, with the team selecting him seventh overall as its first-ever draft pick in 1965, WKYC reported. He broke into the big leagues two years later, and by 1970 was emerging as one of the American League’s best young catchers.

Fosse batted .307 in 1970 with 18 home runs and won a Gold Glove Award. But he is remembered for his first All-Star Game appearance at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium when he was on the wrong end of one of baseball’s most famous collisions.

In the bottom of the 12th inning at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, Fosse was catching when the Chicago Cubs’ Jim Hickman hit a single to center field. Cincinnati’s Pete Rose barreled into Fosse at the plate to score the winning run and sent the catcher to the ground with a separated shoulder.

Fosse felt the effects of that injury for the rest of his career, reported.

“He never talked about it, never used it as an excuse,” former teammate Sal Bando told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Even though you compare the batting styles before and after, it was completely different. He was protecting his shoulder; Ray never complained. He was a loyal teammate to everybody.”

Fosse earned another All-Star berth in 1971 but suffered more injuries. He went to Oakland in 1973 and returned to Cleveland in 1976. He finished his major league career in 1977 with the expansion Seattle Mariners.

On May 30, 1977, during his second stint in Cleveland, Fosse caught Dennis Eckersley’s no-hitter against the Angels, a 1-0 victory.

Eckersley struck out 12 batters in a 1-0 win, then jumped into Fosse’s arms to celebrate, the Chronicle reported.

Ken Korach, who has worked A’s games for 26 years, said Fosse was “an incredibly supportive broadcast partner.”

“I think people know how much he means to our fans,” Korach told the Chronicle. “‘Iconic’ probably doesn’t give him justice. He was revered. He was a beloved figure.”

Bob DiBiasio, Cleveland’s vice president of public affairs, released a statement saying that Fosse was “a true fan favorite.”

“The Cleveland Indians family is deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Fosse, a true fan favorite who loved wearing a Cleveland Indians uniform,” DiBiasio said. “He was so proud to be our top draft pick in 1965. We extend our deepest sympathy to the entire Fosse family, as well as his many teammates, Major League broadcast colleagues and the organizations impacted by his nearly 60 years in the game he loved.”