From David Davis at The Classical on March 5, 2014, with SABR member John Rosengren:
Nearly half a century after Juan Marichal pummeled John Roseboro over the head with a baseball bat at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the photograph of the incident still resonates. It could hardly be otherwise: this is, after all, a Hall of Famer perpetrating a felony assault on an opponent, at home plate. It remains one of the most disturbing images in the history of the national pastime, if not in all of modern sports.
Author John Rosengren’s new book, The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball’s Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption (Lyons Press), tells the story behind the Marichal-Roseboro contretemps in August of 1965. He explains why this was not a random act of violence on Marichal’s part and also why this was not some “Giants-Dodgers rivalry thing.” Most surprisingly, given the brutality of the original photograph, Rosengren shows how both ballplayers were able to find peace.
What was it about this topic that made you decide to write this book?
I’m always attracted to stories with a cultural dimension. This one had it in both characters, with Marichal being a dark-skinned Latino and Roseboro an African-American playing during a racially charged time. The kicker for me, though—what made me believe I had to write this book—was how these two men turned a violent moment that would forever define them into an occasion of redemption.
Originally published: March 7, 2014. Last Updated: March 7, 2014.