This weeks’s Smallthoughts: Old school Tuesday is about three of the elite pitchers in the hisotry of the game…Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax.
We start with Juan Marichal.
He was as much known for his high leg kick and hard velocity as he was for his brutal fight with Johnny Rosenboro of the Dodgers. Juan Marichal pitched for the San Francisco Giants for 14 of his 16 seasons in the major leagues, Marichal was known for his high leg kick, pinpoint control and intimidation tactics, which included aiming pitches directly at the opposing batters’ helmets.
Marichal also played for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers for the final two seasons of his career.Although he won more games than any other pitcher during the 1960s, he appeared in only one World Series game and he was often overshadowed by Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson in post-season awards. Marichal was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.
Marichal won more games during the decade of the 1960s (191) than any other major league pitcher, but did not receive any votes for the Cy Young Award until 1970, when baseball writers started voting for the top three pitchers in each league rather than one per league (or, until 1967, only the top pitcher in MLB). Marichal finished in the top 10 in ERA seven consecutive years, starting in 1963 and culminating in 1969, in which year he led the league. During his career, he also finished in the top 10 in strikeouts six times, top 10 in innings pitched eight times (leading the league twice), and top 10 in complete games 10 times, with a career total of 244. He led the league twice in shutouts, throwing 10 of them in 1965.
Marichal exhibited exceptional control. He had 2,303 strikeouts with only 709 walks, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.25 to 1. This ranks among the top 20 pitchers of all time, ahead of such notables as Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens, who each have strikeout-to-walk ratios of less than 3:1. Over his career, he led the league in the fewest walks per nine innings four times, and finished second three times – totaling eleven years in which he finished in the top 10, all while also finishing in the top 10 for strikeouts six years.
One regular-season game in Marichal’s career deserves mention, involving him and Milwaukee Braves’ Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in a night contest played July 2, 1963, before almost 16,000 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The two great pitchers matched scoreless innings until Giants outfielder Willie Mays homered off Spahn to win the game 1–0 in the 16th inning. Both Spahn and Marichal tossed 16-inning complete games, something that almost certainly will never happen again in the big leagues. Marichal allowed eight hits in the 16 innings, striking out 10, and saddling eventual career home run king Hank Aaron with an 0-for-6 collar. Spahn permitted nine hits in 151⁄3 innings, walking just one (Mays intentionally, in the 14th, after Harvey Kuenn‘s leadoff double) and striking out two. The game, almost the innings-duration of two contests, lasted only 4 hours, 10 minutes.By coincidence, future Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig attended the game as a fan.
Johnny Roseboro incident
Marichal is also remembered for a notorious incident that occurred on August 22, 1965, in a game played against the Giants’ arch-rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Twice in the first three innings, Marichal had thrown near the head of Dodger leadoff batter Maury Wills. As Marichal was batting against Sandy Koufax in the last of the third inning, Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro‘s return throws to the mound flew too close to his head and one grazed his ear. Words were exchanged, and Roseboro, throwing off his catcher’s helmet and mask, rose to continue the argument. Marichal responded by twice hitting Roseboro’s unprotected head with his bat. The benches cleared into a 14-minute brawl, while Giants captain Willie Mays escorted the bleeding Roseboro (who would require 14 stitches) back to the clubhouse.
Marichal was ejected, suspended for eight days (two starts) and fined $1,750 (equivalent to $13,096 in 2014). He was also barred from attending the Giants’ final series with the Dodgers, in Los Angeles on September 6–7. Photos of the incident (Official Baseball Guide 1966, Sporting News, p. 19) also show Tito Fuentes (who was in the on-deck circle) wielding a bat threateningly, but Fuentes did not actually hit Roseboro and was not ejected. Roseboro sat out the next couple of games and returned to the lineup on the 25th. Roseboro filed a lawsuit against Marichal, but eventually settled out of court, supposedly for $7,000 ($52,385 in 2014), Marichal and Roseboro would eventually go on to become close friends, reconciling any personal animosity and even autographing photographs of the brawl.
Many people protested the apparently light punishment meted out, since it would cost Marichal only two starts. The Giants were in a tight pennant race with the Dodgers (as well as the Pirates, Reds, and Braves) and the race was decided with only two games to play. The Giants, who ended up winning the August 22 game and were down only 1⁄2 game afterward, eventually lost the pennant by 2 games. Ironically, the Giants went on a 14-game win streak that started during Marichal’s absence and by then it was a two-team race as the Pirates, Reds, and Braves fell further behind. But then the Dodgers won 15 of their final 16 games (after Marichal had returned) to win the pennant. Marichal won in his first game back, 2–1 vs. the Astros on September 9, (the same day Koufax pitched his perfect game vs. the Cubs,) but lost his last three decisions as the Giants slumped in the season’s final week.
Marichal pitched a no-hitter on June 15, 1963, and was named to ten All-Star teams. He was selected the Most Valuable Player of the 1965 game in Minneapolis, in which he pitched three shutout innings and faced the minimum nine batters, giving up one hit. His overall All-Star Game record was 2–0 with a 0.50 ERA in eight appearances facing 62 batters in 18 total innings, second-most in innings pitched only to Don Drysdale (19.1 innings; 2-1, 1.40 ERA and 69 batters faced).[
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …the Hard throwing High Leg kicking Juan Marichal.
|July 19, 1960 for the San Francisco Giants|
|Last MLB appearance|
|April 16, 1975 for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Earned run average||2.89|
|Career highlights and awards|