Pete Rose vs. Ray Fosse

Robert NelsonCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2008

My, how this game has changed.  Yankee Stadium is a special place tonight.  Lots of showbiz glam, all the biggies, still the same old game, but money has changed it all.

These lineups remind me of taking all the main courses from your favorite meals and throwing them into a food processor for about five seconds.  You like pizza, steak, fish, Mexican.  You can sense a little bit of the flavor here and there, but it's not like the real deal. 

It doesn't mean what it used to.  I don't watch the game in the same way I did when I stayed up past my bedtime 38 years ago to watch Rose clobber Fosse to win it in extra innings.  THAT was baseball, possibly THE link between the Cobb era and today's megastars. 

Fosse's career was never the same after that train wreck.  He did go on to catch Dennis Eckersley's no hitter against the Angels in 1977 as an Indian, this after crushing his neck breaking up a locker room brawl between Reggie Jackson and Billy North in 1974 as an Oakland A. 

When I think of Rose, possibly the greatest player of all time, I often think of Ray Fosse.  I think about getting the paper off mom and dad's porch the next day and going to the sport section to read all about it. 

There it was, the picture, the headline.  Rose won the game, and I'd played a small part.  I'd gone to our minor league ballpark many times, grabbed stacks of ballots, and voted for every Red player on there.

I'm a Yankee fan now.  That took a while.  It was nice to see Jeter, A-Rod and Rivera go to the show in their backyard.  They tried hard, all players did.  Even Manny.  That's not the point.  I didn't see two men collide in the blink of an eye and change their lives forever.