Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22, 1965: Charging the mound, you're doing it wrong

SAN FRANCISCO - The recipe for a baseball brawl is usually pretty formulaic: pitcher hits or nearly hits a batter, batter is upset and shouts something, batter runs at pitcher and misses on a punch attempt, benches empty as players look at each other, fight ends. Pretty simple, pretty predictable.

Every once in a while, the formula changes, leading to a memorable baseball moment. Examples like Robin Ventura getting his ass kicked by a 46-year-old Nolan Ryan come to mind, as does this one between the Twins and Tigers where a Tigers pitcher ended up hurting himself when he jump-kicked a Twins player.

But nobody got the concept of starting a fight more wrong than Giants pitcher Juan Marichal, who hit Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro over his head with a bat in a game.

On August 22, 1965, the Giants and Dodgers were once again in the middle of a tight pennant race, like they had been so many times over the years. Whether the teams were based in New York or California, they always hated each other, and often found themselves battling each other for the National League crown. This year was no different, and the two teams were only 1.5 games apart when they began play that Sunday afternoon.

In the bottom of the third, with Marichal batting, Roseboro threw a ball back to pitcher Sandy Koufax that, in Marichal's view, came too close to his head. Marichal completely lost it, taking his bat and hitting Roseboro twice over the head before otehr players came to break up the fight. Though he ended up being OK, the site of Roseboro profusely bleeding from the attack left many people shaken.

After the very predictable ejection, Marichal was suspended an additional nine games. His suspension could very well have been the difference in a pennant race the Giants lost by 2 games to the Dodgers. It also likely cost him a few years on his induction to the Hall of Fame. While his career numbers indicated he could easily have been inducted on the first ballot, Marichal didn't get in until a few years after he was first eligible, and then only because Roseboro publically campaigned for his induction.

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