SABR

Pomrenke: Colliding with history at home plate

From SABR member Jacob Pomrenke at The National Pastime Museum on June 30, 2014:

As soon as Pete Rose lowered his shoulder and crashed into catcher Ray Fosse in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star Game, baseball fans and writers began celebrating his hard-nosed play that won the game for the National League.

“That’s why Pete Rose earns $100,000 a year for playing baseball,” David Condon wrote in the Chicago Tribune. “It was the type of block that would have made a Kansas City Chiefs tackle blush.”

“Sure, Pete Rose could have slid around Ray Fosse,” Dick Young wrote in The Sporting News. “And [Hall of Fame running back Jim] Brown could have tried to out-nifty more guys instead of running over them. . . . Pete Rose has long been commended for his way. He has been tagged Charley Hustle, and he wears it proudly.”

On the NBC broadcast, announcer Curt Gowdy observed Rose checking on the injured Fosse after the play. “Now look at Rose helping Fosse up,” he told a national television audience. “No hard feelings. Baseball is that kind of game.”

But over the past four decades, as athletes in all sports have grown bigger, faster, and stronger, leading to more violent collisions and more severe injuries—most notably, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey’s season-ending leg fracture suffered in a 2011 collision—Major League Baseball has decided it doesn’t want to be that kind of game anymore.

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But a look back through baseball history tells a more complicated story about how collisions have been perceived over the years. Lowering your shoulder and barreling into the catcher to score a run wasn’t always accepted as a normal part of the game.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/colliding-history-home-plate

This page was last updated June 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm MST.

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