Some moments in All-Star Game history come to mind quickly, but few may remember the role a KC Royals outfielder played in one of them.
There are many memorable All-Star Game occurrences, including these: Ted Williams’ walk-off home run in 1941, John Kruk’s comical at-bat against Randy Johnson in 1993 and, four years later, lefthanded hitting Larry Walker wearing his batting helmet backward and in the righthanded batter’s box against Johnson; and for KC fans, there was Bo Jackson’s leadoff homer in the bottom half of the first inning in the 1989 game. Jackson was named that contest’s MVP.
Jackson, however, isn’t the Royal outfielder who’s today’s focus.
How KC Royals outfielder Amos Otis got to, and into, the 1970 All-Star Game.
In the Royals’ inaugural season of 1969, catcher Ellie Rodriguez was the club’s lone All-Star representative but didn’t see action in the game. A light-hitting platoon catcher who Kansas City acquired in the American League expansion draft, Rodriguez seemed to be an odd pick as an All-Star anyway.
The 1970 AL team included KC centerfielder Amos Otis, who was in his first full season with the team. Otis had been drafted by the Boston Red Sox and acquired as a minor leaguer by the New York Mets. After hitting .178 over bits of two seasons with the Mets, Otis came to Kansas City when the Royals traded Joe Foy to New York for him and pitcher Bob Johnson.
Prior to the July 14 All-Star Game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Otis had posted a .310 average and was on his way to leading the league in doubles for the season.
Otis sat on the bench for the first six innings at Riverfront, but in the bottom of the seventh was sent in to play center and bat fourth.
Otis flew out in the eighth and hit into a double play as the game continued in a 4-4 tie in the 10th. He lined out to right field to end the top of the 12th, but no one knew at the time that he’d be the last batter for the American League.
Amos Otis became part of All-Star Game history with a throw, not his bat.
The bottom of the 12th started innocently enough when the National League’s Joe Torre and Roberto Clemente both grounded out against pitcher Clyde Wright.
Then, hometown favorite Pete Rose singled to center with two outs. Dodger rookie third baseman Billy Grabarkewitz singled to left, moving Rose to second and bringing Chicago Cub Jim Hickman to the plate with the potential winning run in scoring position.
Video replay footage readily located throughout the Internet typically shows Hickman striking the ball, then cuts to Rose running, his hair flying as he rounds third base and heads home. As the throw to the plate and Rose near home simultaneously, Rose lowers his left shoulder into the left shoulder of AL catcher Ray Fosse, barreling over Fosse as Rose scores the winning run.
And that throw that reached home plate at the same time as Rose? It was delivered from center field by future Gold Glove winner and KC Hall of Fame member Otis, but he’s typically just a tiny glimpse on replays of this memorable play.
Fosse’s shoulder was seriously injured on the play and he appeared never to permanently regain his pre-All-Star Game form; he retired following the 1979 season, later was a broadcaster for Oakland games, and died last year.
Amos Otis played a key part in a famous All-Star Game play.