Baseball’s top Latin American players – Felix Mantilla, Roberto Clemente, Tony Oliva, Cookie Rojas, Juan Marichal, Zoilo Versalles, Vic Davalillo and Leo Cardenas – pose before on the field before the 1965 All-Star game. (Herb Scharfman/SI)
August 22, 1965
Thinking Johnny Roseboro throws too close to his head returning the ball to Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal attacks the Dodger catcher with his bat. Roseboro suffers cuts on the head during the 14-minute brawl.
The Giants and the Dodgers were bitter rivals engaged in a pennant race on Aug. 22, 1965, when Juan Marichal came up to bat against Sandy Koufax. When Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro threw a ball back to Koufax that nicked Marichal’s ear, the San Francisco ace struck the catcher with his bat, setting off a melee and opening a two-inch gash on Roseboro’s head. Marichal was suspended nine days and fined $1,750. (Neil Leifer/SI)
One of them is this photo above that captures Juan Marichal’s awkward yet effectively delivery, which you can see in video form here.
Marichal won more games than any other major league pitcher in the 1960s, including a 25-8 record in 1963, but never won a Cy Young. It probably didn’t help that Bob Gibson’s ERA was 1.12 in ‘63.
His wind up and high kick delivery was not added to his repertoire until late in his development as a pitcher.
At Single A ball, Marichal was a side arm pitcher, until his manager suggested that an overarm delivery would make him more effective, especially against lefties.
Marichal, who had won 21 games the year before, found all this change to be unnecessary: “I couldn’t do it without kicking my leg high in the air. And I couldn’t throw my screwball without kicking my leg high.”
He would master it and despite the unorthodox delivery, he had some of the best control in league history, issuing just 709 walks in his career.
The leg kick was not popular to all, rival Dodgers outfielder Ron Fairly once said: “I just didn’t like Marichal’s attitude on the mound and that bothered me. Plus there is the fact he was a Giant and the Giants-Dodgers was oil and water. We didn’t mix. We didn’t even like each other’s uniforms. It seemed to me that when Marichal was winning he kicked his leg up just a little bit higher and it just aggravated the hell out of me.”
July 2, 1963
The Giants’ Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves both pitch 15 innings of scoreless baseball before Willie Mays homers in the bottom of the 16th, giving San Francisco a 1-0 win.
10. A Giants who came before your time whom you wish you could have seen.
This is blasphemy, I know. I’m a terrible, terrible, awful person. But of all the players my dad told stories of as we listened to baseball on the radio and tried to make tomatoes grow (this can be hard in Nevada)…it wasn’t Willie Mays he talked about most, it was…Juan Marichal.
I don’t know, in the end, if this was actually possible, that I could not choose Willie Mays. It just seems wrong not to. But there would be a contest, at least a small one.