Juan Marichal

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Juan Marichal
Juan Marichal 2009.jpg
Marichal in 2009.
Pitcher
Born: (1937-10-20) October 20, 1937 (age 76)
Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 19, 1960 for the San Francisco Giants
Last MLB appearance
April 16, 1975 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Career statistics
Win–loss record 243–142
Earned run average 2.89
Strikeouts 2,303
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Induction 1983
Vote 83.7% (third ballot)

Juan Antonio Marichal Sánchez (born October 20, 1937[1]) is a former right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball.[1] Playing for the San Francisco Giants most of his career, Marichal was known for his high leg kick, pinpoint control and intimidation tactics, which included aiming pitches directly at the opposing batters' helmets.[2]

Marichal also played for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers for the final two seasons of his career.[1] 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.[3][4] Marichal was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.[5]

Early life[edit]

Juan Marichal was born on October 20, 1937 in the small farming village of Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic, the youngest of Francisco and Natividad Marichal's four children.[6] He has two brothers, Gonzalo and Rafael, and a sister named Maria. His father died of an unknown illness when Marichal was three years old.[6] His house did not have electricity, but food was plentiful since his family owned a farm.[7] As a child, Marichal worked on the farm daily, and was responsible for taking care of his family's horses, donkeys, and goats.[7] He lived near the Yaque del Norte River, and often spent time swimming and fishing.[8] One day, while Marichal was playing by the river, he fell unconscious due to poor digestion, and was in a coma for nine days.[9] Doctors did not expect him to survive, but he slowly regained consciousness after his family gave him steam baths by doctors orders.[9]

His older brother Gonzalo instilled a love of baseball in young Marichal, and taught him the fundamentals of pitching, fielding, and batting.[10] Every weekend, Marichal played the sport with his brother and friends. For their games, they found golf balls and paid the local shoemaker one peso to sew thick cloth around the ball to make it the proper size.[11] They employed branches from a wassama tree for bats, and canvas tarps for gloves.[11] Among his childhood playmates were the Alou brothers, Felipe, Jesús, and Matty, who all later played with Marichal on the San Francisco Giants.[11] From the age of six, Marichal aspired to become a professional baseball player, but his mother discouraged this, instead urging him to get an education.[12] At the time, there were no players from the Dominican Republic in Major League Baseball, and his goal was viewed to be unrealistic.[12] At age 11, he briefly held a job cutting sugar cane for the J.W. Tatem Shipping conglomerate.

In 1954, sixteen-year-old Marichal joined a summer league in Monte Cristi, playing for a team called Las Flores.[10] Although he began at shortshop, Marichal switched to pitcher after taking inspiration from Bombo Ramos of the Dominican national team.[10] He left high school after being recruited to play for the United Fruit Company team in 1956.[13]

Playing career[edit]

Marichal's delivery was renowned for one of the fullest windups in modern baseball, with a high kick of his left leg that went nearly vertical (even more so than Warren Spahn's delivery).[3] Marichal maintained this delivery his entire career, and photographs taken near his retirement show the vertical kick only slightly diminished. The windup was the key to his delivery in that he was consistently able to conceal the type of pitch until it was on its way.

Marichal was discovered by Ramfis Trujillo, the son of late Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Ramfis was the primary sponsor of the Dominican Air Force Baseball Team (Aviación Dominicana), against which Marichal pitched a 2–1 victory game in his native Monte Cristi. From the very moment the game ended, Marichal was a member of Aviación Dominicana team, enlisted to the Air Force right on the spot by Ramfis' orders.[14]

Marichal in 1962

Marichal entered the major leagues on July 19, 1960 with the San Francisco Giants as the second native pitcher to come from the Dominican Republic. He made an immediate impression: in his debut, on July 19, 1960 against the Philadelphia Phillies, he took a no hitter into the eighth inning only to surrender a two-out single to Clay Dalrymple.[15] He ended up with a one-hit shutout, walking one and striking out 12.[16] He started 10 more games that season, finishing at 6–2 with a 2.66 ERA.[1] He improved his victory totals to 13 and 18 over the following two seasons, respectively, before finally cracking the 20-victory plateau in 1963, when he went 25–8 with 248 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA.[1] Marichal enjoyed similar success through the 1969 season, posting more than 20 victories in every season except 1967, and never posting an ERA higher than 2.76.[1] He led the league in victories in 1963 and 1968 when he won 26 games.[17][18] He and Sandy Koufax were the only two Major League pitchers in the post-war era (1946–present) to have more than one season of 25 or more wins. Each pitcher had three such seasons in their careers.

Marichal won more games during the decade of the 1960s (191) than any other major league pitcher,[3] 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.[19] 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. He led the league twice in shutouts, throwing 10 of them in 1965.[19][20]

Marichal exhibited exceptional control. He had 2,303 strikeouts with only 709 walks,[1] 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.

The Greatest Game Ever Pitched[edit]

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.[21][22] Both Spahn and Marichal tossed complete games,[22] 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.[22] Spahn permitted nine hits in 15 and one-third innings, walking just one (Mays intentionally, in the 14th, after Harvey Kuenn's leadoff double) and striking out two.[22] The game, almost the innings-duration of two contests, lasted only 4 hours, 10 minutes.[22]

Johnny Roseboro incident[edit]

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.[23] 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 repeatedly hitting Roseboro's unprotected head with his bat.[24] 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 nine days and fined $1,750 (equivalent to $13,096 as of 2014)[25]. 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.[26] Roseboro filed a lawsuit against Marichal, but eventually settled out of court, supposedly for $7,000 ($52,385 as of 2014),[25]. 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 one or 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 12 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.

1970–75[edit]

In 1970, Marichal experienced a severe reaction to penicillin which led to back pain and chronic arthritis. Marichal's career stumbled in 1970, when he only posted 12 wins and his ERA shot up to 4.12, before straightening itself out with a stellar 1971 season in which he won 18 games and his ERA dropped below 3.00.[1] It was his final great season, however, as he posted 6–16 and 11–15 records in 1972 and 1973 respectively.[1]

After the 1973 season, the Giants sold Marichal to the Boston Red Sox.[27] He had a fairly solid 1974, going 5–1 in 11 starts, but was released after the season.[1] He then signed with the Dodgers as a free agent.[27] Dodger fans had never forgiven Marichal for his attack on Roseboro 10 years earlier, and it took a personal appeal from Roseboro to calm them down. However, Marichal's 1975 didn't last long; he was lit up for nine runs, 11 hits and a 13.50 ERA in only two starts before retiring.[28] He finished his career with 243 victories, 142 losses, 244 complete games, 2,303 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA over 3,507 innings pitched.[1] He played in the 1962 World Series against the New York Yankees (one start, a no decision) and the 1971 National League Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates (losing his only start).[29] Between 1962 and 1971, the Giants averaged 90 wins a season, and Marichal averaged 20 wins a year.

No-hitter and All-Star performances[edit]

Marichal pitched a no-hitter on June 15, 1963, and was named to ten All-Star teams.[1][30] He was selected the Most Valuable Player of the 1965 game. His All-Star Game record was 2–0 with a 0.50 ERA.

Honors[edit]

Marichal at the 2008 All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade.
GiantsJuan Marichal.png
Juan Marichal's number 27 was retired by the San Francisco Giants in 1975.

Marichal was passed over for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame during his first four years of eligibility, by all accounts because the Baseball Writers Association of America voters still held his attack on Roseboro against him. However, after a personal appeal by Roseboro, Marichal was elected in 1983, and thanked Roseboro in his induction speech.[28] His uniform number 27 has been retired by the Giants.[31] In 1990, Marichal, who was working as a broadcaster for Spanish radio, was on hand to see his son-in-law at the time, José Rijo, win the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.

In 1999, he ranked #71 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.[32][33] He was honored before a game between the Giants and Oakland Athletics with a statue outside AT&T Park in 2005, and was named one of the three starting pitchers on Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team. In 1976, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter", consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Marichal was the right-handed pitcher on Stein's Latin team.

The Giants honored him by commemorating a statue of him in his pitching motion. The Giants also honored him by wearing jerseys that said "Gigantes." Marichal was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on July 20, 2003 in pregame on field ceremony at Pac Bell Park.[34]

Controversy[edit]

In 2008, Marichal was filmed at a cockfight in the Dominican Republic along with New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martínez. The incident caused controversy in the United States, but Martinez defended their attendance at the cockfight by saying "I understand that people are upset, but that is part of our Dominican culture and is legal in the Dominican Republic". He added "I was invited by my idol, Juan Marichal, to attend the event as a spectator, not as a participant."[35]

Pronunciation[edit]

The popular media tended to pronounce his surname "MARE-i-shall". West coast broadcasters tended to pronounce his name more like proper Spanish enunciation, "mahr-ee-CHAHL".[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Juan Marichal at Baseball Reference
  2. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/aug/23/20040823-011141-7243r/?page=all
  3. ^ a b c Juan Marichal: He Was Winningest Pitcher of '60s, by John Lowe, Baseball Digest, August 1998, Vol. 57, No. 8, ISSN 0005-609X
  4. ^ Juan Marichal-A Man In Many Shadows, by Michael R. Lauletta, Baseball Digest, June 1970, Vol. 29, No. 6, ISSN 0005-609X
  5. ^ Juan Marichal at the Baseball Hall of Fame
  6. ^ a b Marichal, Freedman, 2011. p. 13
  7. ^ a b Marichal, Freedman, 2011. p. 14
  8. ^ Marichal, Freeman, 2011. p. 20
  9. ^ a b Marichal, Freeman, 2011. p. 21
  10. ^ a b c Marichal, Freedman, 2011. p. 15
  11. ^ a b c Marichal, Freedman, 2011. p. 16
  12. ^ a b Marichal, Freedman, 2011. p. 17
  13. ^ Marichal, Freedman, 2011. p. 23
  14. ^ "The Dandy Dominican", Time magazine, June 10, 1966
  15. ^ Baseball Digest, June 1990, Vol. 49, No. 6, ISSN 0005-609X
  16. ^ July 19, 1960 Phillies-Giants box score at Baseball Reference
  17. ^ 1963 National League Pitching Leaders at Baseball Reference
  18. ^ 1968 National League Pitching Leaders at Baseball Reference
  19. ^ a b 1969 National League Pitching Leaders at Baseball Reference
  20. ^ 1965 National League Pitching Leaders at Baseball Reference
  21. ^ July 2, 1963, by Ron Fimrite, Sports Illustrated, July 19, 1993
  22. ^ a b c d e July 2, 1963 Braves-Giants box score at Baseball Reference
  23. ^ August 22, 1965 Dodgers-Giants box score at Baseball Almanac
  24. ^ The Battle Of San Francisco, by Jack Mann, Sports Illustrated, August 30, 1965
  25. ^ a b Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  26. ^ August 25, 1965 Dodgers-Mets box score at Baseball Almanac
  27. ^ a b Juan Marichal Trades and Transactions at Baseball Almanac
  28. ^ a b Purdy, Dennis (2006). The Team-by-Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. New York City: Workman. ISBN 0-7611-3943-5. 
  29. ^ Juan Marichal postseason pitching statistics at Baseball Reference
  30. ^ June 15, 1963 Colt 45s-Giants box score at Baseball Reference
  31. ^ Giants retired numbers at MLB.com
  32. ^ Juan Marichal at The Sporting News 100 Greatest Baseball Players
  33. ^ Juan Marichal at The Major League Baseball All-Century Team
  34. ^ "Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum". Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  35. ^ "Video showed Pedro, Marichal at cockfight" ESPN.com http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3234767]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Marichal, Juan and Freedman, Lew (2011). Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown. MVP Books. ISBN 978-0760340592.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Don Nottebart
No-hitter pitcher
June 15, 1963
Succeeded by
Ken Johnson
Preceded by
Willie Mays
Major League Player of the Month
May, 1966
Succeeded by
Gaylord Perry