"This guy is a natural. He’s got ideas about what he wants to do and does it. He amazes me." — Carl Hubbell
"No pitcher has made such magnificent use of his God-given equipment." — Branch Rickey
"If you placed all the pitchers in the history of the game behind a transparent curtain, where only a silhouette was visible, Juan’s motion would be the easiest to identify. He brought to the mound beauty, individuality and class." — Bob Stevens in "Baseball’s Greatest Quotes" (1982)
Except for Sandy Koufax, who was otherworldly, Juan Marichal was the best pitcher — certainly the best right-hander — of the 1960s. His 191 wins exceeds Bob Gibson’s second-place 164 by a huge margin. Indeed, he won more games than Gibson in each season of the decade. He’s the only pitcher of the decade with more complete games (197) than wins. His 2.57 ERA is bettered only by Koufax’s 2.36 and Hoyt Wilhelm’s 2.16, but Wilhelm pitched only 1,103 1/3 innings. He’s third in innings pitched behind Don Drysdale and Jim Bunning. His 45 shutouts lead the decade by four over Gibson. His 3.66 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is topped only by Koufax’s 3.73.
He’s arguably the National League’s greatest All-Star Game pitcher, appearing in eight games, winning two while losing none, hurling 18 innings and giving up seven hits and two walks while striking out 12 and surrendering two runs (one earned) for a minuscule ERA of 0.50.
And yet . . .
He never won the Cy Young Award.
He had to wait until his third year of eligibility before election to the Hall of Fame.
All some people want to remember him for is one horrendous day.
Marichal (pronounced mah-ree-CHAHL1) finished with an impressive statistical line: 243 wins against 142 losses, an ERA of 2.89, 244 complete games (more than half of his starts), 52 shutouts, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3-to-1. He led the league in wins twice, in shutouts twice, in complete games twice, in innings pitched twice, in winning percentage once. It’s a brilliant résumé, yet he never quite gets the recognition he richly deserves. Why?
It’s not a lack of skill. He had five pitches (slider, fastball, change, curve, and screwball) in his arsenal and could throw most of them for strikes over the top, three-quarters, or sidearm. Pete Rose, who saw more pitchers than any man in history, said Marichal was the best pitcher he encountered. (Rose actually did well against Marichal, with a .341 average, .400 on-base percentage, and .512 slugging percentage, with a tally of 42 hits in 123 AB that included 7 doubles, a triple, and 4 homers.2) It’s not a matter of style. Marichal’s high kick was unmistakable. So what is it?
Three possibilities emerge. First, through no fault of his own, Marichal didn’t get to perform extensively on the World Series stage. Koufax and Gibson did. Second, and again through no fault of his, Marichal at 6’0” and 185 pounds didn’t exude the athletic power of Koufax and Gibson. Koufax and Gibson looked like people who could and did overpower a hitter with the fastball or freeze him with the curve. Marichal didn’t look overpowering. He looked like a finesse pitcher and usually worked that way, but he could blow away any hitter if he had to. Finally, his physical appearance and body chemistry may have had an effect. Former basketball players Koufax (6’2”-210) and Gibson (6’1”-195) cut imposing figures and looked like men working hard; in the dog days of July and August, as the game went along, fans could see Koufax and Gibson’s beards getting darker and their jerseys getting wetter and wetter. Not so with Marichal. He didn’t sweat. From the first pitch to the ninth inning he looked like a man freshly showered and shaved in a new suit and ready for dinner with a lovely lady. To make things worse, he always seemed to be smiling — one of his nicknames was Laughing Boy — no matter what the situation, the look of a man who’s saying, “I’m going to win, we both know it, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Scout Dewey Griggs saw this trait early in Marichal’s career: “Never seems to exert himself,” before concluding, “very good live fast ball...should go all the way.”3 Koufax and Gibson blew hitters away. They seemed to say, “Here it is, what are you gonna do about it?” Marichal toyed with them, embarrassed them.
Natividad Sánchez and Francisco Marichal had had Gonzalo, Rafael, and María before Juan Antonio was born October 20, 1937, in Laguna Verde, Monte Cristi, a province in the northwestern part of the Dominican Republic. Life was hard for most people in the poor farming village, and the Marichals were no exception, living in a palm bark shack without electricity. However, farming ensured their having food. Francisco died when Juan was three, leaving the family in even worse straits. Juan tended the family’s horses, goats, and donkeys, and spent his free time fishing and swimming in the Yaque del Norte River.
When Juan was ten, tragedy nearly struck — he fell unconscious and lay in a coma for nine days. Poor digestion was the culprit, but treating it effectively in such a remote area was difficult. There seemed little hope for the boy, but a local doctor suggested giving him steam baths, and he regained consciousness.
Gonzalo, a solid baseball player, saw Juan’s interest and taught his little brother the fundamentals of the game. It wasn’t long before Juan was playing ball on weekends with Gonzalo and his friends. The boys had no equipment and little or no money, but they were creative. They would pay a shoemaker a peso to sew thick cloth around golf balls they’d found to make them the right size. Bats? Difficult, but not impossible. They fashioned them from the branches of a local hardwood tree. Gloves were a little easier; they made them from canvas tarp. Among the fledgling ballplayers in the area were brothers Felipe, Mateo, and Jesús Rojas (they used the surname Alou in the United States), who all enjoyed fine major league careers, all of them at one time or another with the San Francisco Giants. Marichal and the Alous have been close friends ever since.
Although “Manito” knew by age 6 that he wanted to be a ballplayer in the United States, he received no encouragement from his mother, who wanted him to get an education. Since there were no players from the Dominican Republic in the majors in the early 1940s, Juan’s dreams seemed pretty far-fetched, so at age eleven he spent a short time cutting sugar cane for J. W. Tatem Shipping.
Marichal started out as a shortstop. Yet even though the Dominican Republic is known for producing shortstops, he wasn’t destined to be one of them. Before he was ten years old, inspired by Bombo Ramos, a star on the Dominican national team who came from Monte Cristi, Marichal switched to pitching, imitating Ramos’ sidearm delivery.4
Marichal left high school after the eleventh grade (something he later regretted) and spent a year in Santo Domingo. There his brother Gonzalo taught Juan to drive a truck and found a spot for him on the Esso Company team. Once he turned 16, Marichal came back home and joined a summer league in Monte Cristi to play for a team with the unlikely name Las Flores (flowers), sponsored by the Bermúdez Rum Company. He then signed on with the Grenada Company team (the Dominican subsidiary of United Fruit).
His big break wasn’t far off.
Ramfis Trujillo, son of Dominican strongman Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, was a major sponsor of the Dominican Air Force team, known as Aviación Militar Dominicana. Ramfis saw Marichal pitch a 2-1 victory in Monte Cristi, and almost immediately Juan Marichal was enlisted (drafted) into the Air Force. Resistance to the “draft” wasn’t an option — Ramfis and the Generalissimo’s brother, Petán Trujillo, took their baseball seriously.5 Marichal neither flew nor maintained aircraft nor took part in the defense of his country.
No conventional airman, Marichal pitched, developing the pinpoint control that was one of his trademarks. Progressing rapidly, he was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Giants before the 1957 season. Ultimately, in 1958 he was signed for a $500 bonus by Giants scouts Horacio “Rabbit” Martínez, Frank “Chick” Genovese, and Alex Pómpez. He made his professional debut during the winter of 1957-58 with the Escogido Leones of the Dominican League, which had a working agreement with the Giants.
The young man breezed through the minor leagues. Starting in 1958 with Michigan City (Indiana) in the Class-D Midwest League, Marichal went 21-8 with a 1.87 ERA, pacing the league in wins, ERA, and innings pitched (245) and was among th league leaders with 24 complete games and . He followed that up in 1959 with Springfield (Massachusetts) in the Class-A Eastern League, topping the charts with 18 wins (against 13 losses), 8 shutouts, 208 strikeouts, and 271 innings pitched, throwing in a 2.39 ERA as a bonus. Through most of the season he still threw sidearm exclusively, but manager Andy Gilbert, fearing that he would injure his arm and explaining that he could throw a wider variety of pitches with greater velocity, convinced
Marichal to take up an overhand motion. The result was the high-kicking, ball-concealing motion by which any knowledgeable fan can identify him. Promoted to Tacoma in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1960, he won 11 games, lost five, and posted a 3.11 ERA. The Giants brought him up to the parent club in July.
Marichal resolved any questions about his readiness for the big leagues in his debut on July 19. All he did was shut out the Phillies, giving up one hit (a pinch-hit single to Clay Dalrymple in the eighth inning) while walking one and striking out 12. Proving that his debut was no fluke, four days later he put down the eventual World Series champion Pirates and Harvey Haddix, 3-1, on four hits, four walks, and six strikeouts. The Braves became his next victim, on July 28; he pitched 10 innings, surrendering two runs, a walk, seven hits while striking out six — to defeat Warren Spahn, 3-2. It added up to three wins and three complete games in nine days. He cooled off a bit from that point, finishing the season 6-2 with an ERA of 2.66 and six complete games.
Becoming a mainstay on the Giants wasn’t the only thing on Marichal’s mind, not with trouble back home. Trujillo was assassinated by his own armed forces on May 30, 1961, throwing the Dominican Republic into chaos. Meanwhile, Marichal had become engaged to Alma Rosa Carvajal, a neighbor of the Rojas Alou brothers. With turmoil in the Dominican deepening, Marichal asked Giants manager Alvin Dark during spring training in 1962 for a few days off to go home. Dark consented. Marichal went home, returned with Alma, and they were married on March 28. The Marichals have six children (Rosie, Elsie, Yvette, Ursula Raquel, Charlene, and Juan Antonio), 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, and celebrated their golden anniversary in 2012.
Marichal leveled off a little but developed his craft over the next two seasons, posting a 13-10 mark with a 3.89 ERA in 1961. By 1962 he’d become a very good pitcher, going 18-11 for a power-laden Giants team that won 103 games that edged the hated Dodgers 2-1 in a three-game tie-breaker series and headed to the World Series against the mighty veteran Yankees. Marichal’s 18 wins were good for third on the team behind Jack Sanford (24-7) and Billy O’Dell (19-14) and ahead of Billy Pierce (16-6), but his 3.36 ERA led the staff. As a bonus he pitched scoreless fourth and fifth innings of the first of two All-Star Games that year and was the winning pitcher in the National League’s 3-1 victory.
Because of several rainouts in San Francisco, the seven-game Series, which the Yankees won, ran from October 4 to October 16. Marichal started Game Four at Yankee Stadium and was moving along with a 2-0 lead for four innings, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out four. Striking out while trying to bunt off Whitey Ford in the top of the fifth inning, he injured his hand and was finished for the Series.
The Giants were a solid team, usually in contention through the sixties and early seventies, so no one would have guessed that they wouldn’t appear in another World Series until 1989. World Series disappointment aside, Juan Marichal became a great pitcher in 1963 and remained one through 1969.
The 1963 season didn’t start auspiciously for Marichal on April 10, as he lasted two innings in Houston, giving up eight hits and four earned runs. Things didn’t improve four days later as he lost to the Cubs in Chicago. Returning home, he righted himself and beat the Cubs, 5-1, on the 19th. From that point on he was practically invincible, finishing the season 25-8 (the first of three times he won at least 25 games) with a 2.41 ERA. For good measure he led the league with 3211/3 innings pitched. Along the way he got his revenge against Houston on June 15, throwing a no-hitter for a 1-0 win. Oddly enough, he abandoned his high kick for that one game.
On July 2 he defeated Warren Spahn 1-0 in 16 innings in what Jim Kaplan has called the greatest game ever pitched. It was everything a game should be, a testament to the skill, courage, pride, and honor of two marvelous pitchers—perfect theater featuring the aging veteran (Spahn was 42 and had 338 career victories at the time) and the upcoming youth. Spahn and Marichal were mirror images of each other, with their high kicks and pitching hands almost touching the ground during their windups. Spahn had been pitching more with his head than his arm for a number of years; finessing his way through the powerful San Francisco lineup, letting them hit the ball, he gave up nine hits while striking out just two and walking one . Marichal took a different approach; in a year in which he struck out a career-high 248, he gave up eight hits , punched out 10 batters , and walked four. Neither pitcher backed off. Age wasn’t about to be bested by youth, youth wasn’t giving in against age. The game ended as it had to when Willie Mays homered with one out in the 16th inning. It illustrated what might be the central point about baseball, noted so beautifully by Bart Giamatti: “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.”7
Koufax, like Marichal having his first great season, won 25 games, lost five, led the league with 11 shutouts, 306 strikeouts, and a 1.88 ERA. Following up, he was MVP of the World Series, throwing two complete-game victories as the Dodgers swept the Yankees. For his efforts he received the Cy Young Award (only one was presented from 1956 to 1966) and the National League Most Valuable Player award.
Marichal had another fine season in 1964, going 21-8 with a 2.48 ERA and a league-best 22 complete games. Gibson’s final numbers were 19-12 and 3.01, but he took MVP honors in the World Series with two complete-game wins over the Yankees. The Cy Young Award went to Dean Chance of the Angels, who accompanied his 20-9 mark with a 1.65 ERA.
On paper the 1965 season looks like another typical Juan Marichal performance. A 22-13 mark with a 2.13 ERA is impressive, especially when it’s accompanied by 24 complete games and a league-leading 10 shutouts.
All of that, and much more, came crashing down on August 22.
It was a long-anticipated Sunday game with the Dodgers in Candlestick Park with a lot riding on the outcome and the two best pitchers in the game facing off—Koufax for the Dodgers and Marichal for the Giants. The close pennant race notwithstanding, the two teams that had left Brooklyn and New York eight years before had carried their mutual hatred to their new homes in California.
Neither pitcher was particularly sharp. The Dodgers touched Marichal for single runs in the first and second innings; the Giants got one back in their half of the second. Both pitchers had been working inside, not hesitating to push hitters off the plate. When Marichal came to bat with one out in the third, Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro told Koufax to retaliate. Koufax buzzed Marichal twice, provoking no reaction. But then Roseboro threw the ball back to Koufax very close to Marichal’s ear. Marichal exploded, attacking Roseboro with his bat, hefting it over his head like an executioner in olden times to bring it crashing down on Roseboro’s skull, opening a two-inch gash on the catcher’s forehead. One of the worst brawls in Dodgers-Giants history ensued. When peace—such as it was—was restored, Marichal was ejected, and Koufax, badly shaken, got the second out of the inning, walked Jim Davenport and Willie McCovey, and served up a three-run homer to Willie Mays. The Giants won, 4-3, but Marichal drew a fine of $1750 (the highest in National League history up to that time) and a nine-day suspension. Many observers thought the numbers should have been reversed. The Giants also paid, finishing second on the season, two games behind the Dodgers.
The game has been rehashed many times, becoming something of a morality play. In 2011 Roger Guenveur Smith wrote and performed a one-man play called Juan and John. Roseboro forgave Marichal and supported him for the Hall of Fame, and the families remain close to this day.
Koufax was Koufax in 1965: 26-8, 2.04 ERA, a then-record 382 strikeouts (since broken by Nolan Ryan in 1973 with 383), 2-1 despite a 0.38 ERA in the World Series, a second World Series MVP award, a second Cy Young Award. As if that weren’t enough, he pitched a perfect game (his fourth no-hitter) at Dodger Stadium on September 9, beating the Cubs and a luckless Bob Hendley, who gave up one hit, by a score of 1-0.
Tony Blengino argues in Baseball’s New Top 100 that Marichal’s best season came in 1966.8 Determining Marichal’s greatest season is difficult since, like Warren Spahn, he had so many outstanding ones. A 25-6 mark combined with a 2.23 ERA, league-leading figures in winning percentage (.806), WHIP (.859), hits and walks per nine innings (6.7 and 1.1, respectively), throwing in 25 complete games is certainly impressive. Unfortunately for Marichal, Koufax exceeded him with league-bests 27 wins, 1.73 ERA, 323 innings pitched, 27 complete games, 317 strikeouts, and 5 shutouts. His 27 wins are the twentieth-century National League record for a southpaw, equaled by Steve Carlton in 1972 . To the surprise of no one, he notched his third Cy Young Award. The surprise was his announcement of his retirement at age 30, making his the greatest final season any pitcher ever had.
The 1967 season is a mystery. Marichal was having his usual fine year for the first half. He was 12-7 with a 2.29 ERA and started the All-Star Game on July 11. He had pitched a complete-game win over the Dodgers on the 8th and made his usual start on the 14th, getting roughed up in five innings against Houston and taking the loss. He took another pounding and loss in Pittsburgh on the 18th and followed that on the 22nd with another short outing (5 1/3 innings, two hits, two runs, one earned, for no decision) in Chicago. He appeared to be in a two-week slump, but back home in San Francisco and with an extra day or two of rest he beat the Phillies in a complete game and four days later did the same to the Pirates. On August 4, however, he pulled a hamstring running in the outfield at Shea Stadium . He didn’t pitch again until August 25, against the Braves, lasting only 4 2/3 innings and suffering the loss. That was his last game of the season, giving him a final mark of 14-10, 2.76, nowhere near the high standard he had enjoyed. Teammate Mike McCormick (22-10) took home the Cy Young Award.
In St. Louis meanwhile, Bob Gibson settled for a 13-7, 2.98 mark, his season shortened on July 15 when Roberto Clemente’s line drive single back at the box broke his leg; ever the warrior, Gibson faced three more batters. before leaving the game. At full strength for the World Series, he destroyed the Impossible Dream Red Sox with three complete-game wins and an ERA of 1.00 and was voted MVP of the Series. Two pitchers suffering sub-par, shortened seasons were gearing for the epic season that was on the horizon.
The 1968 season has been called The Year of the Pitcher with good reason. It seemed that most hitters left their bats in the rack, as averages slid to a depth not seen since the Deadball days of 1901 through 1919. Carl Yastrzemski led the American League with a .301 batting average, an all-time low for a batting champion. Every pitcher looked to be having a career year on his way to the Hall of Fame. Three pitchers stood out. Denny McLain of the Tigers went 31-6, the first pitcher to win 30 games since Dizzy Dean turned the trick in 1934; nobody’s done it since. In the National League were Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson.
Marichal won a league-high 26 games against just 9 losses, posting a 2.43 ERA and leading the league with 30 complete games and 325 2/3 innings pitched; in most seasons a pitcher with those numbers would run away with the Cy Young Award, but 1968 was extraordinary. Gibson posted a fine 22-9 mark, but his 1.12 ERA is the lowest since the Deadball Era, and his 13 shutouts (tied with Jack Coombs’s mark in 1910) rank second to Grover Cleveland Alexander’s major-league record 16, set in 1916. In addition, the Cardinals went to the World Series, where Gibson pitched valiantly, setting a Series record with 17 strikeouts in Game One and taking down McLain twice before being betrayed by his defense against Mickey Lolich in Game Seven. For his record-setting efforts, Gibson walked away with the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards for the National League.
Hitters in both leagues came back a bit in 1969, and although they dropped off a little, Marichal, Gibson, and McLain all had excellent seasons. Marichal went 21-11 and led the league with 8 shutouts and a 2.10 ERA. There was a new gun in town, though. Tom Seaver won 25 games while putting the hitherto hapless and hopeless New York Mets on his shoulders and carrying them to a three-game sweep of the Braves for the NL championship and a five-game World Series shocker over the powerful Baltimore Orioles. He won the Cy Young Award.
Marichal’s 1970 season was a disaster. It started during spring training with a severe allergic reaction to penicillin. He lost weight over a few weeks and never completely regained his strength. The short-term effect was a 12-10 mark, an ugly 4.12 ERA, and a seriously diminished fastball. The only bright spot was picking up his 200th career win on August 28, a 5-1 complete game over the Pirates in Candlestick Park. The long-term effect was worse: chronic arthritis and severe back pain.
Left with pinpoint control and guile, Marichal put together his last good season in 1971, an 18-11 mark with a 2.94 ERA. He pitched the Giants’ division-clinching win, beating the Padres 5-1 in San Diego on the last day of the season. Finally back in the postseason, he pitched well in Game Three but lost a 2-1, eight-inning complete game to the eventual World Series champion Pirates; home runs by Richie Hebner and Bob Robertson defeated him.
As often happens with finesse pitchers, the decline — as it had come with Warren Spahn — came swiftly, steeply, and suddenly for Juan Marichal. He started the 1972 season on April 15 with eight innings of shutout ball in a win at Houston. He then lost seven starts in a row; on May 17 he was 1-7 despite an ERA of 2.83. The nightmare ended on September 19 with loss number 16 and only six wins and a not-bad ERA of 3.71. Following a back operation, life got no better in 1973 even with an apparent improvement to 11-15, but his ERA was 3.82.
Having seen enough, the Giants sold Marichal to the Red Sox on December 7. The 36-year-old veteran returned to winter ball for the first time in six years, posting a 5-5, 2.12 record for Escogido. During his eight seasons with the Leones, “El Mónstruo de Laguna Verde” won 36 and lost 22. (Political turmoil interrupted the Dominican League’s operations in 1961-62 and wiped out the 1962-63 and 1965-66 seasons.9) He is the league’s all-time leader in ERA with a 1.87 mark in 557 1/3 innings.
In 1974, Marichal scratched his way to a 5-1 slate, but an ERA of 4.87, with the Sox, who released him on October 24. On the Ides of March 1975, Juan Marichal signed on as a free agent with the hated Dodgers. He started two games, lasting six innings and giving up nine runs. It was all over on April 16.
Then came five years of waiting. Marichal and Bob Gibson became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1981. Despite their similar statistics, Gibson got in on his first try while Marichal obtained only 233 of the 301 votes he needed. In 1982, with Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson receiving their due, he came up a heartbreaking seven votes short of the 312 required. John Roseboro publicly announced that all was forgiven and urged the writers to vote for his friend, and on January 12, 1983, Juan Marichal was finally elected to the Hall of Fame, the first native of the Dominican Republic so honored.10
Marichal has stayed in baseball and sports in general since retiring as a player. He directed the Oakland Athletics’ program in the Dominican Republic from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s; the program sent a number of players to the majors, most prominently 2002 American League MVP Miguel Tejada. Working as a broadcaster for Spanish radio in 1990, he watched his then-son-in-law José Rijo earn World Series MVP honors as Rijo helped pitch the Cincinnati Reds to a four-game sweep of the Athletics. From 1996 to 2000 he served in the cabinet of Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández as his country’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education. He still analyzes games for ESPN Deportes.
Despite the honors, there has been one moment of controversy. He and Pedro Martínez were filmed at a cockfight in the Dominican Republic in 2008. A segment of the American public got upset, but the practice is legal in the Dominican Republic, and Marichal and Martínez were there purely as spectators.
Marichal has a farm in the Dominican Republic and travels frequently to and from the United States. “I have 48 head of cattle and a lot of chickens,” he told Stuart Miller. “I travel a lot, but when I’m here in the Dominican Republic, I come almost every afternoon. I really enjoy spending time with the animals and talking to my workers. It’s very relaxing.”11
Juan Marichal is a man respected and admired by all who know him. He’s invariably kind to people who are in no position to do him any favors. Gabriel Schechter, a former research associate at the Hall of Fame, describes a telling incident. Schechter was working in the Giamatti Library when he heard that Marichal was in the gallery with some friends. He went out to introduce himself to the Hall of Famer. “Marichal,” says Schechter, “introduced me to his friends and for ten minutes acted like I was the Hall of Famer in the group!” Another time Schechter and a friend decided to put together two theoretical teams of living Hall of Famers, good guys and not-so-good guys. Marichal was the easy choice for pitcher with the good guys.
Marichal sums up his goal in his autobiography: “Before I die, I will be happy if people say of me that I did something good for other people. . . . I want to be remembered more for helping people than for what I did in baseball.”12 He’s achieved his goal.
Last revised: December 18, 2018
I am grateful to Mark Armour for his superb editing, to Rory Costello for providing me with additional material and straightening me out on Spanish names, to Rob Ruck for help with the timeline, to Carl Riechers for rigorous fact-checking, and to Bill Nowlin for supplemental editing and formatting. They made my work better.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted:
Bjarkman, Peter C. “Dandy, Sandy, and the Summer of ’65,” Elysian Fields Quarterly, Winter 1998, 47, 49-55, 57-59.
Boyle, Robert H. “The Latins Storm Las Grandes Ligas,” Sports Illustrated, August 9, 1965: 24-26, 29-30.
Burgos Jr., Adrian. Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 2007).
James, Bill, and Rob Neyer. The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers: A Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004).
Kaplan, Jim. The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, and the Pitching Duel of the Century (Chicago: Triumph Books, 2011).
Klein, Dave. Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Vida Blue, Hoyt Wilhelm. Great Pitchers Series 2. (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1972).
Lugo, Carlos J. Prospectus Q & A with Juan Marichal, April 5, 2005.
Mandel, Mike, ed. “Juan Marichal,” San Francisco Greats (San Francisco: Mike Mandel, 1979), 130-36).
Marichal, Juan, with Charles Einstein. A Pitcher’s Story (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1967).
Ruck, Rob. The Tropic of Baseball (Westport, Connecticut: Meckler Publishing, 1991).
Wendel, Tim, and José Luis Villegas. Far from Home: Latino Baseball Players in America (Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2008).
Wendel, Tim. The New Face of Baseball: The One-Hundred-Year Rise and Triumph of Latinos in America’s Favorite Sport (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).
This list is a sampling of the material available on Marichal. Marichal’s file from the Giamatti Library at the Baseball Hall of Fame was particularly helpful. Baseball-reference.com and retrosheet.org were invaluable for statistics and play-by-play accounts of games. Paper of Record provided access to The Sporting News. The Baseball Index (TBI) was indispensable for source material. Marichal’s record with Escogido comes from www.lasemanadeportiva.com.
1 The tendency in the U.S. is to pronounce the last syllable as if it were “shall” — how it would sound in French — and to put the accent on the first syllable. In Spanish, however, the “ch” digraph is always pronounced as it is in the English word “change” — and unless an accent mark indicates otherwise, the stress falls on the last syllable of words ending in ‘l’. The 1971 edition of The Sporting News Baseball Register got it exactly right.
2 The most successful hitter against Marichal was Dick Allen: 39 for 105 (.371) with eight homers. Joe Torre — 35 for 100 (.350), also with eight homers — was close behind. Ken Boyer and Hank Aaron also hit eight homers off Marichal.
3 John Odell, “The Hall of Fame Looks at Baseball Scouts,” in Jim Sandoval and Bill Nowlin, eds., Can He Play? A Look At Baseball Scouts And Their Profession (Phoenix: Society for American Baseball Research: 2011), vi. E-Book.
4 Ramos died in the 1948 plane crash that is Dominican baseball’s greatest tragedy.
5 Rafael Trujillo was mainly interested in baseball as a populist tool. He was an aficionado of horse racing.
6 For a full discussion and fascinating details about the duel between Spahn and Marichal, see Kaplan’s excellent The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, and the Pitching Duel of the Century (Chicago: Triumph Books, 2011). Other worthy candidates for greatest game exist: Addie Joss’s perfect game, 1-0 win over Ed Walsh during the thick of a pennant race on October 2, 1908; Joe Wood’s 1-0 triumph over Walter Johnson on September 6, 1912 (one of the scores of 1-0 games Johnson won and lost over his career); Babe Ruth’s 13-inning 1-0 defeat of Johnson on August 15, 1916; Fred Toney’s 1-0, 10-inning no-hitter over Jim Vaughn (who threw a no-hitter through nine innings) on May 2, 1917; Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger’s 26-inning 1-1 standoff on May 1, 1920, tops everything for sheer endurance; Carl Hubbell’s 18-inning, 12-strikeout, 0-walk, 1-0 defeat of the Cardinals’ Tex Carleton and Jesse Haines on July 2, 1933; Harvey Haddix’s 12 perfect innings against Milwaukee and Lew Burdette on May 26, 1959, an effort that resulted in a 1-0 loss in the 13th inning; and Sandy Koufax’s 1-0 perfect game of September 9, 1965, over the Cubs’ Bob Hendley, who allowed only one hit.
7 “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977; reprinted in Paul Dickson, ed., Baseball’s Greatest Quotations (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 155-56.
8 Tony Blengino, “Juan Marichal — 1966,” in John Benson and Tony Blengino, eds., Baseball’s New Top 100: The Best Individual Seasons of All Time (Wilton, Connecticut: Diamond Library, 2001), 182-85.
9 It does not appear that Marichal ever played in any other winter leagues. The Oriente Indios of Venezuela made a pitch for him in January 1962, after the Dominican League’s season had ended prematurely, but he did not join that club. During the winter of 1965-66, the Federation of Dominican Players formed a circuit of three teams known by colors — but Marichal stayed in shape by scuba diving for abalone in the Pacific Ocean.
10 Questions exist about why Marichal had to wait to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Conventional thinking indicates that a group of voters chose to punish him for the Roseboro incident. However, there is some reason to believe that Marichal was forgiven fairly soon after because less than one year later, on June 10, 1966, Time published a long, laudatory cover article by Charles Parmiter and Richard Saltonstall Jr. bearing the title “The Dandy Dominican.” The cover featured a nine-part sequence of photos of Marichal’s distinctive high-kick delivery and read “The Best Right Arm in Baseball.” The authors cover much ground and mention but do not dwell on the Roseboro incident.
11 Stuart Miller, “30 Seconds With Juan Marichal,” New York Times Baseball Blog, Interview of May 7, 2011. https://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/07/30seconds-with-juan-marichal/
12 Juan Marichal with Lew Freeman, Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown (Minneapolis: MVP Books, 2011), 243.