Buddy Harrelson an eyewitness to pair of All-Star memorable moments
Forty-three years later, it's still one of the most iconic images in All-Star history, and Buddy Harrelson remembers it from the best seat in the house.
With two outs and the score tied in the bottom of the 12th in the 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, Pete Rose took off from second and rounded third on Jim Hickman's line-drive single to centerfield. As the relay throw approached the plate, Rose lowered his shoulder and barreled over catcher Ray Fosse, who lost the ball and his glove as he flipped over backward.
Rose touched home, giving the National League a 5-4 victory. The promising Fosse suffered a separated shoulder and was never the same.
Harrelson, then a shortstop with the Mets, saw the whole thing from the National League dugout at Riverfront Stadium.
"Oh, it was ugly," said Harrelson, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the first of his back-to-back All-Star Games. "Fosse had the ball and the plate blocked and there was nowhere for Pete to go, so he went right through him, and that's just the kind of player Pete was."
Harrelson, who at 69 now prefers to be called "Buddy, because it's friendlier" should know about Rose. The two got into a fight that led to a brawl during the 1973 National League Championship Series.
Harrelson has been with the Long Island Ducks since the team's inception in 2000 and is a co-owner and bench coach. He said he plans to partake in the 2013 All-Star festivities at Citi Field.
Knowing he'd be back for another gathering of greats, Harrelson reflected on his own All-Star experiences and wondered if this year's game can produce another memorable moment like the one provided by Charlie Hustle in 1970.
"You probably won't see something like that today," Harrelson said. "But there's still a lot of glory and pride with when you beat the other team and their stars."
Harrelson was the starting shortstop in the 1971 game at Tiger Stadium and was on the field when Reggie Jackson crushed a pitch from Dock Ellis, driving it off an electrical transformer about 100 feet above field level on the roof in right-centerfield. The game also featured home runs by Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew.
"Starting that game was huge, because you looked around and you knew those guys were Hall of Famers, even though they were still playing," Harrelson said. "I was watching the American League guys take batting practice and they were hitting them out to the roof. And I remember when Reggie hit that massive home run , I just flinched and kind of peeked at it as it went over."
He also remembers being introduced along with Aaron and Willie Mays when the starting lineups were announced, and recalled some of his All-Star teammates joking about his place among those legends.
"I was getting ready to be introduced with the starting lineup and other guys on the bench were kidding me, saying, 'You've got a lot of guts to go out there with those guys,' because you looked around, there was one Hall of Famer, and another and another and another, and I joked back and said, 'Yeah, but none of those guys can play shortstop, and I play shortstop.' . . . I look back on all those All-Stars and think, 'Wow, I got to play with these guys.' "
Harrelson, who with the Ducks won an Atlantic League All-Star Game as a manager in 2004 and coached in two others when the game was held on Long Island in 2002 and 2010, is looking forward to creating a new All-Star memory at Citi Field. The only other time the Mets hosted an All-Star Game was in 1964 at Shea Stadium.
"I'm very excited that the Mets are hosting the game and to be a part of it. It's been a long time and it could be another 30 years before they get to do it again," Harrelson said. "There are a lot of dreams you have as a player. You want to make it to the big leagues, we won the World Series in '69 and made it back in '73, but knowing the other shortstops in the league and to be the one that was selected for two straight years was a dream come true."