Pete Rose: Collisions 'natural' plays

Updated: November 2, 2013, 11:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The man on the winning end of the most famous plate collision in baseball's history says league officials can't legislate the play out of the game.

Pete Rose barreled through Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 1970 All-Star Game in the bottom of 12th inning, seriously injuring the Cleveland Indians catcher and adding a chapter to the hit king's long place in baseball lore.

Rose, speaking Thursday night in an appearance on the "Olbermann" show on ESPN2, said there was no way around it.

"You can't eliminate that. If the catcher blocks the plate, that's what is going to happen," Rose said. "In the case with myself and Ray Fosse, he had the plate blocked. I started to slide head-first. And if I slide, I'm going to break both collar bones."

Rose I hit him before the ball got there. I tried to ask him if he was OK. I mean, that's part of the game. You can't take everything away from it.

-- Pete Rose, on his famous collision
with Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game

In the aftermath of two home plate collisions in the AL Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers last month, officials from other teams reiterated to ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that they expect the topic of banning that play to be raised again in meetings this winter.

The officials talked of change as inevitable and predicted it could come swiftly.

Rose said he was at an advantage because the throw to the plate was still feet away from reaching Fosse's glove. Rose scored from second with two outs on a single by the Chicago Cubs' Jim Hickman as the NL All-Stars won 5-4.

Many in the game thought Fosse was never the same. He also won a Gold Glove in 1970 and again was an All-Star the following season, but he was a full-time player for just two seasons after that. His career in the majors spanned all or parts of 12 seasons.

"And to be honest with you, he was breaking the rules because I think the rule book says you can't block the plate if you don't have the ball," Rose said.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, whose team lost catcher Buster Posey for most of 2011 after his ankle was shattered in a plate collision, has been among the most outspoken voices calling for a ban on the play, which he considers to carry unacceptable health risk for both catchers and runners.

Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane said he told A's catchers to stay out of harm's way and to protect themselves rather than block the plate, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who retired after the ALCS, said he was also in favor of a ban.

One team official, referring to the ALCS plays, said the collisions involving Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila and David Ross illuminated "how stupid [the collision] is."

But Rose called it a natural baseball play.

"I hit him before the ball got there," Rose said of Fosse. "I tried to ask him if he was OK. I mean, that's part of the game. You can't take everything away from it."

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney was used in this report.

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