July 14, 1970: The Chicago Cubs’ Jim Hickman singles home Pete Rose from second base to score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning as the National League defeats the American League, 5-4, in the 1970 All-Star Game played at Riverfront Stadium. The game winning play of Rose crashing into Cleveland Indians’ catcher Ray Fosse with the running run is one of the more memorable moments in the career of Pete Rose and baseball history.
3B Tony Perez and C Johnny Bench, enjoying monster seasons, were both elected to the NL’s starting lineup. Jim Merritt and Wayne Simpson were named to the pitching staff and Rose was added as a reserve. The AL was leading 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth with A’s pitcher Jim Hunter on the mound. Catcher Dick Dietz homered to open the inning and shortstop Bud Harrelson followed with a single. Outfielder Cito Gaston popped to first, but Astros second baseman Joe Morgan singled moving Harrelson to second base. Yankees lefty pitcher Fritz Peterson replaced Hunter to face lefty hitting Willie McCovey. McCovey singled to centerfield, scoring Harrelson with Morgan moving to third base. Peterson’s righty teammate, Mel Stottlemyre, replaced Peterson on the mound to face righty batting Roberto Clemente, who lined a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Morgan and tie the score at 4-4.
The game remained scoreless through the middle of the 12th. The AL had threatened in the top of the 12th when Carl Yastrzemski drilled a two-out double off Claude Osteen. The NL intentionally walked Willie Horton, but Osteen got Amos Otis to line out to right field. The winning rally started in the 12th when Rose reached on a two-out single. Billy Grabarkewitz singled to left with Rose stopping at second base. Hickman then singled to centerfield with Rose beating Otis’s throw home, knocking over plate blocking catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run.
A couple of points to consider about the play. Some have said that Rose did not need to be so aggressive in an “exhibition” game. Examining the endgame details should indicate that the teams were serious about trying to win these games. The AL was making aggressive pitching substitutions in the ninth to secure the win and the NL was intentionally walking a hitter in the top of the 12th to avoid pitching to the dangerous Horton. Also, Fosse, was blocking the plate to keep Rose from scoring. Ironically, Rose had invited Fosse and Sam McDowell to his home just the night before.
Fosse was having a phenomenal year for the Indians in 1970. Fosse was hitting an uncharacteristic .312 with 16 home runs entering the all-star break after batting .172 with two homers in his rookie season the year before. Fosse’s career minor league average was .282 and he had hit a total of 15 career home runs in 349 minor league games. Fosse finished the year at .307 but hit only two homers the rest of the season. He was an all-star again in 1971 when he batted .276 with 12 homers. Fosse played through 1979, hitting .301 in 1976, and finished his career with a lifetime batting average of .256 with 61 home runs. It’s hard to dispute the claim that the collision affected Fosse’s 1970 season, but there’s also no guarantee that he would have continued at that rate of production based on his minor league record. Whatever the case, all parties involved were playing for the win in a competitively played game and it has made for a great baseball moment.
Fosse is also not the only player to get hurt in all-star competition. I don’t know all the players who have been injured during the all-star festivities, but one of the more notable injuries was Barry Larkin’s ligament tear during the Reds star-crossed 1989 season. Larkin was hitting .342 at the time and headed toward his first .300 season.
As a side note…one of the more impressive items from the 1970 all-star game were how many Reds players (past, present, and future) played in the game. 1970 Reds included Bench, Perez, Rose, Simpson, and Merritt. Past Reds included Osteen, Frank Robinson, Tommy Harper, Alex Johnson, and Mike Cuellar. Future Reds included Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver, Denis Menke, and future Reds manager Dave Johnson. Fourteen players were involved….and Leo Durocher, former Reds player, was one of the National League coaches.
Rose’s all-star moment was famous, but just three years earlier, on July 11, 1967, Tony Perez had offered up one of the all-time great all-star moments when he drilled a 15th inning homer off Jim Hunter to give the National League a 2-1 win. The NL scored first when third baseman Richie (Dick) Allen homered off Dean Chance to take a 1-0 lead. The AL tied it when third baseman Brooks Robinson launched a homer off Ferguson Jenkins to tie it at 1-1.
Outside of the two home runs, neither team had a runner reach third base in the game until the top of the 13th inning when Tim McCarver doubled off Hunter and was sacrificed to third by Bill Mazeroski. The threat ended when Gene Alley struck out and Pete Rose flied to centerfield pinch hitting for Cuellar. McCarver was the only runner in the game to reach third base in lieu of a home run.
The winning run scored in the 15th when Perez homered off Hunter with one out. McCarver followed with a single but was doubled off first base on pinch hitter Tommy Helms’s line drive. Tom Seaver preserved the game with a scoreless 15th despite a one-out walk to Carl Yastrzemski. You may notice that all the runs scored in the game came on home runs by the teams’ third basemen. The 1967 team had no Reds elected to the team, but Rose, Perez, and Helms were all chosen as reserves. Former Reds playing in the game were Osteen, Cuellar, and Frank Robinson. Jim Wynn had been in the Reds’ organization before being drafted from them by the Astros. Future Reds’ players included Seaver and Jim McGlothlin.
According to Redleg Journal, there’s an interesting backstory to Perez’s game-winning home run. Perez, wife, and infant son had arrived to their hotel late the night before the all-star game to find the room had been released and rented to another customer. The hotel instead provided Perez with the Presidential Suite for the evening, may be in a prescient moment of future success.