John Roseboro and Juan Marichal, the central figures of the infamous brawl in 1965.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Los Angeles Dodgers 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 8 2
San Francisco Giants 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 - 4 4 1
DateAugust 22, 1965 (1965-08-22)
VenueCandlestick Park
CitySan Francisco, California, U.S.
Managers
Umpires
Attendance42,807
Time of game2:18

The "Battle of Candlestick", also called the "Battle of San Francisco", was an infamous bench-clearing brawl which took place on August 22, 1965, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California, United States. In what is considered to be one of the most violent on-field brawls in sports history, pitcher Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants hit catcher John Roseboro of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the head with a bat, opening a gash on Roseboro's head and starting a fourteen-minute brawl between the teams in the middle of a heated pennant race.

The brawl had short-term and long-term consequences. Marichal's suspension contributed to the Giants losing the pennant race that season. He received a then-record fine, also paying a financial settlement. Due to the incident, Marichal failed to get elected on his first two ballots to the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, Roseboro and Marichal later reconciled, eventually becoming close friends. Roseboro would later lobby to get Marichal elected to the Hall of Fame, while Marichal would later become a pallbearer at Roseboro's funeral.

Background

See also: Dodgers–Giants rivalry

The 1965 National League pennant chase was a close and heated race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, as well as the Milwaukee Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. There was an intense rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants which dated back to their days in New York City and carried over after their move to the West Coast.[1]

On August 22, the Dodgers entered the game leading the Braves by half a game and the Giants by one and a half games.[2] Emotions were raw due to previous minor altercations between the teams. Additionally, the game took place in the aftermath of the Watts riots near the home of Dodgers catcher John Roseboro and during the Dominican Civil War raging in the home country of Giants pitcher Juan Marichal.[3]

Incident

Candlestick Park, the location of the infamous brawl

The pitching matchup between future Hall of Fame pitchers Marichal and Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax, both favorites to win the Cy Young Award that season, drew a sold-out crowd at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

Maury Wills led off the game with a bunt single off Marichal, and eventually scored a run when Ron Fairly hit a double. Marichal, a fierce competitor, viewed the bunt as a cheap way to get on base and took umbrage with Wills.[3] When Wills came up to bat in the second inning, Marichal threw a brushback pitch at Wills, sending him sprawling to the ground. Willie Mays then led off the bottom of the second inning for the Giants and Koufax threw a pitch over Mays' head as a token form of retaliation.[3] In the top of the third inning with two outs, Marichal threw a fastball that came close to hitting Fairly, prompting him to dive to the ground.[3] Marichal's act angered the Dodgers sitting in the dugout, and home plate umpire Shag Crawford warned both teams that any further retaliations would not be tolerated.[3]

Marichal came up to bat in the third inning expecting Koufax to take further retaliation against him. Instead, he was startled when Roseboro's return throw to Koufax after the second pitch either brushed his ear or came close enough for him to feel the breeze off the ball.[4] When Marichal confronted Roseboro about the proximity of his throw, Roseboro came out of his crouch with his fists clenched.[2] Marichal afterwards stated that he thought Roseboro was about to attack him and raised his bat, striking Roseboro at least twice over the head with it, opening a two-inch gash that sent blood flowing down the catcher's face and required fourteen stitches.[2]

Koufax raced in from the mound attempting to separate the two and was joined by the umpires, players and coaches from both teams. A fourteen-minute brawl ensued on the field before Koufax, Mays and other peacemakers restored order. Marichal was ejected from the game. After the game resumed, a shaken-up Koufax walked two batters before giving up a three-run home run to Mays, with the Dodgers eventually losing the game 4–3.[2]

Years later, in his memoirs, Roseboro stated that he was retaliating for Marichal's having thrown at Wills. In his telling, Roseboro took matters into his own hands as he did not want to risk Koufax being ejected and possibly being suspended for retaliating while the Dodgers were in the middle of a close pennant race.[5][6] He stated that his throwing close to Marichal's ear was "standard operating procedure", as a form of retribution.[2]

Aftermath

Following the game, National League (NL) president Warren Giles suspended Marichal for eight games (two starts), fined him a then-NL record $1,750 (equivalent to $17,000 in 2023) and forbade him from traveling to Dodger Stadium for the final, key two-game series of the season. Roseboro filed a lawsuit against Marichal seeking $110,000 in damages one week after the incident, but eventually settled out of court for $7,500.[2]

Many people thought Marichal's punishment was too lenient, since it would cost him only two starts.[2] Fans booed him for the rest of the season whenever he pitched a road game. 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 trailing by only a half-game afterward, eventually lost the pennant to the Dodgers by two games.[7]

Ironically, the Giants went on a fourteen-game winning 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 fifteen of their final sixteen games (after Marichal had returned) to win the pennant. Marichal won in his first game back, 2–1 vs. the Houston Astros on September 9 (the same day Koufax pitched his perfect game vs. the Chicago Cubs) but lost his last three decisions as the Giants slumped in the season's final week.[8] "Marichal's actions might have cost us the pennant," Mays speculated, noting that the relief pitchers had to work more in the absence of Marichal, who usually completed his starts.[9]

Marichal didn't face the Dodgers again until spring training on April 3, 1966. In his first at bat against Marichal since the incident, Roseboro hit a three-run home run. Later on, Giants general manager Chub Feeney approached Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi to attempt to arrange a handshake between Marichal and Roseboro. However, Roseboro declined the offer.[10]

Relationship between Roseboro and Marichal

After years of bitterness, Roseboro and Marichal became close friends in the 1980s, getting together occasionally at old-timers' games, golf tournaments and charity events.[11] Dodger fans remained angry with Marichal for several years after the altercation and reacted unfavorably when he was signed by the Dodgers in 1975. Roseboro, who had forgiven Marichal, would personally appeal to fans to do the same.[2]

When Marichal failed to get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first two years of eligibility, Roseboro appealed to the Baseball Writers' Association of America not to hold the incident against Marichal. Thanks in part to the appeal, Marichal was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983, and would thank Roseboro during his induction speech.[12]

Marichal later recalled that Koufax approached him after his induction ceremony in order to clear up what had happened that day: "Sandy talked to me after I was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I felt so good about what he had to say. I couldn't live with that inside of me. He told me all the details about what happened. It took some of the pressure off. I really regret what happened because I used that bat. I'm not the type of person who would do that."[13]

Roseboro later stated: "There were no hard feelings on my part and I thought if that was made public, people would believe that this was really over with. So I saw him at a Dodger old-timers' game, and we posed for pictures together, and I actually visited him in the Dominican. The next year, he was in the Hall of Fame. Hey, over the years, you learn to forget things."[14]

When Roseboro died, Marichal served as an honorary pallbearer at his funeral. "Johnny's forgiving me was one of the best things that happened in my life," he said, at the service. "I wish I could have had John Roseboro as my catcher."[15][11]

References

  1. ^ Mann, Jack (August 30, 1965). "The Battle Of San Francisco". Sports Illustrated.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Wilstein, Steve (August 22, 1990). "Marichal clubbing of Roseboro an ugly side of baseball". Times-News. AP.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Book Excerpt: Marichal, Roseboro and the inside story of baseball's nastiest brawl". Sports Illustrated. April 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Rosengren, pp. 113–114.
  5. ^ Leavy pp. 179–180.
  6. ^ Rosengren, pp. 112–113.
  7. ^ Hirsch, p. 442.
  8. ^ Hirsch, p. 443–445.
  9. ^ Rosengren, pp. 134–135.
  10. ^ "John Roseboro Hammers Homer In First Meeting With Juan Marichal". The Day. April 4, 1966. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Knapp, Gwenn (August 21, 2005). "40 years later, The Fight resonates in a positive way". San Francisco Chronicle.
  12. ^ Stone, Kevin (August 19, 2015). "Juan Marichal clubbed John Roseboro 50 years ago in ugly, iconic incident". ESPN.
  13. ^ Leavy, pp. 179–180.
  14. ^ Rosengren, pp. 169–190.
  15. ^ Rosengren, pp. 208–210.

Book sources