Born: April 4, 1947; Marion, Illinois
Played For: Cleveland Indians (1967-1972, 1976-1977), Oakland Athletics (1973-1975), Seattle Mariners (1977), Milwaukee Brewers (1979)
By Ray Fosse
I was born in Marion, Ill., on April 4, 1947. I would ride my bicycle to the ballpark across town and play Little League baseball in the summer. In the third grade, my teacher asked everybody what they wanted to be. I said, “I want to be a professional baseball player.” I grew up listening to the St. Louis Cardinals on the radio. Stan Musial was my favorite player. When I had the chance, I would go to Sportsman’s Park to watch the Cardinals.
In high school, I played football, basketball and baseball for four years, and lettered in all three sports. I had numerous baseball and football scholarship offers including one from the University of Alabama coached by Paul “Bear” Bryant. However, my dream was always to play professional baseball, so I declined the offer to play football at Alabama.
When Carol and I were married on April 4, 1970, Alvin Dark told me I would be the starting catcher for the Opening Day in Cleveland on April 7, 1970. That year, I was also selected by Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver to be on the American League All-Star Team. Carol and I flew to Cincinnati for the All-Star Game. I replaced Bill Freehan in the bottom of the fifth inning and played the remainder of the game. In the bottom of the 12th inning, the game ended with the All-Star collision, known as one of the top plays in All-Star Game history. Replays of Pete Rose’s jarring crash with me at home plate a half-century ago remains one of the most viewed plays in baseball history. And the outcome never changes.
My most productive year was 1970 when I batted .307 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs. I received the Rawlings Gold Glove as the top fielding catcher in the American League and was voted Co-Man of the Year for the Cleveland Indians. In 1971, I was voted the American League starting catcher, and I received my second Rawlings Gold Glove.
I was traded to the World Champion Oakland A’s in 1973 and played in the 1973 and 1974 World Series. 1973 and 1974 continued the Oakland A’s three consecutive years of winning the World Series and was an exciting time in Oakland A’s history. My hometown celebrated the World Series, too. Marion honored us with a “Marion is Proud Day,” a parade, and named the park where I played baseball, The Ray Fosse Park.
I am very grateful for an 11-year career in the Major Leagues as a baseball player followed by a career in radio for 34 years and television for 31 years as an analyst. I had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest broadcasters in history: Lon Simmons, Bill King and Monte Moore. In recent years, I have been honored as one of the top 100 Cleveland Indians, the Oakland A’s 50th Anniversary Team, and I have received several Emmys for broadcasting.
My happiest memories are with my wife, Carol, and our family. This year, Carol and I will celebrate our 49th anniversary. We have been blessed with two married daughters, Nikki and Lindsey, and four grandchildren. I would like to thank my wife, my family, especially my mother, my hometown, Marion, Ill., my coaches, my principal and friends for providing the sports programs and support that contributed to my life and the honor of being inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.