#9 Clyde Wright's Extra Inning Loss Creates All-Star History
We continue our countdown of the top Angels All-Star Game moments with an ignomious enmeshment in baseball lore that left an almost unnoticed L next to the name of an otherwise great Angels pitcher. His losing of the game has been long forgotten but the manner in which the winning run was scored remains a fault line between sportsmanship and gamesmanship.
It was the bottom of the 11th inning of the 1970 All Star Game when Clyde Wright took the mound. He had a 1-2-3 inning, inducing groundouts from Cito Gaston and the hometown Big Red Machine's Joe Morgan. When the AL failed to score in the top of the 12th, Wright took the mound again and got groundouts from Joe Torre and Roberto Clemente.
So, of the first five batters he faced, Wright got all of them out and two are in the Hall of Fame.
But then he gave up back to back singles. With two outs and runners on 1B and 2B, Clyde Wright gave up a single to Chicago Cubs 1B Jim Hickman. AL Centerfielder Amos Otis came up with the ball quick and threw home. The American catcher had the ball. The runner from 2B never stopped, though, and Pete Rose flew headfirst into AL catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run for the National League in front of his own Cincinnati Reds fans.
Ray Fosse was injured and would never be the same. The image of an airborne Pete Rose took on a double meaning: When is hard-nosed gamesmanship a departure from a core sportsmanship? And that it took place in an exhibition game added a layer of "could'ves, should'ves 'n would'ves" that, like all great baseball discussions, are never resolved and continue to tell us as much or more about ourselves as they do the events themselves. Fosse' name is invoked, though, to this day, in hushed tones of guarded fears of what might happen to a player in an exhibition game and as a pragmatic excuse for never giving it your all when nothing is on the line.
When Pete Rose agreed to be banned from baseball for life nineteen years later, the All-Star Game incident was used as damning evidence about his reckless disregard for sportsmanship by his detractors as passionately as it was used by his supporters as indicative about what made him so special.
I've seen the footage, a Zapruder moment for sportsmanship, but I couldn't tell you if Clyde Wright was on the Grassy Knoll or backing up the plate. But the box score records that he was the pitcher of record. Sometimes a pitcher tosses a ball and sometimes he tips a domino. It was an Angel on the mound that night, tossing 1.2 innings of 3 hit relief. All he could do was watch that fourth hit at the plate.