Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ray Fosse (#184)

Ray Fosse caught for the Indians, Athletics, and others from 1967 to 1980, but is most remembered for being run over at home plate by Pete Rose on the final play of the 1970 All-star game.

Fosse was drafted by the Indians with the 7th overall pick in the first-ever 1965 amateur draft (6 picks behind Rick Monday and 29 picks ahead of Johnny Bench).

After a few cups of joe in ’67 and ’68, Ray made the Indians in 1969, playing 26 games in the first 2 months, before shipping out to AAA in mid-June. He returned in September to start 11 games in the final weeks.

In 1970 Ray took over the starting catching duties from the departed Joe Azcue, starting 120 of the first 136 games, but did not play after September 3rd. Fosse made the all-star team as a rookie, and despite being bulldozed by Charlie Hustle, Ray hit .307 for the season, with 18 homers and a Gold Glove award.

In 1971 he started 119 games behind the plate, but various injuries caused him to miss the last 3 weeks in July (including the all-star game). However, he won his 2nd Gold Glove award and hit .276.

1972 was Fosse’s last season with the Tribe. He was the #1 catcher again, starting 121 games behind the dish, but his offensive production fell off from his first 2 seasons.

After the season, he was traded to Oakland for catcher Dave Duncan and outfielder George Hendrick. Ray played for the Athletics for 3 seasons. He was the starter in ’73, shared the position with Gene Tenace in ’74, and was Tenace’s backup in ’75. Ray did appear in the post-season each year with the A’s (something he had no chance for with Cleveland back then).

After the 1975 season, Ray was sold back to the Indians, where he shared the starting catching duties with Alan Ashby (in ’76) and Fred Kendall (in ’77). In September 1977, he was traded to the expansion Mariners for pitcher Bill Laxton.

Fosse became a free agent after the 1977 season, and signed with the Brewers, but was injured during spring training and missed the entire 1978 season. He played sparingly in 1979, and was released during spring training in 1980.

Since 1986 he has been a broadcaster for the Athletics.

(With this post, every team is now represented at least once.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gene Michael (#114)

Gene "Stick" Michael played shortstop (mostly for the Yankees) from 1966 to 1975. After his playing career, he worked for the Yankees as a coach, manager, general manager, and vice-president in charge of scouting.

Michael was signed by the Pirates in 1959, and played in their minor-league system for 8 seasons from 1959-66, mostly as a shortstop. He also pitched in 16 games (53 innings) in 1963.

Blocked from a big-league job by the Pirates’ Gene Alley, Stick finally made his major-league debut with the Pirates in July 1966. He played in 30 games over the 2nd half of the season, mostly as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner.

With Alley going nowhere, Michael was shipped out to the Dodgers (with 3rd baseman Bob Bailey) for shortstop Maury Wills, who would be the Bucs’ 3rd baseman for the ’67 and ’68 seasons. Gene played only one season in LA, sharing the starting shortstop job with veteran Dick Schofield.

After the 1967 season, Michael was sold to the Yankees, where he would play for the next seven years. Gene was the Yanks’ starting shortstop from 1969 through the end of the 1973 season. In 1974, Michael was relegated to the bench as the Yankees went with Jim Mason at shortstop. After one season as the backup SS-2B, Stick was released by the Yankees.

The Tigers picked him up for the 1975 season, where he played sparingly in a bench role. After his 2nd straight off-season release, Michael signed with the Red Sox in February 1976, but he was released in early-May, not having played a game that season.

After his playing career, Gene coached for the Yankees, and later managed them in 1981 and part of 1982. Michael managed the Cubs for parts of 1986 and 1987, then returned to the Yankees as their general manager.

He was the GM from 1991 to 1995, signing most of the great players of the late-1990s dynasty. Unfortunately, George Steinbrenner was his boss, so Gene was fired before the good times began.

Michael has been a Yankees’ executive VP since 2000, early-on as Director of Scouting, then as a senior advisor to the GM.