With today being the 50th anniversary of the infamous fight between the Dodgers and the Giants in which Juan Marichal swung repeatedly at and eventually hit John Roseboro with a bat, I am reminded of the first time I read about this brawl in my childhood. I remember thinking about how brutal and awful of a thing it must have been to actually witness Marichal hitting Roseboro with that bat. The makeshift collage of the incident that I have put together above, including a reprint of an original newspaper account, for me, captures a lot of those same feelings. The photos still shock 50 years later. Examining them closer I am struck (excuse the pun) by two things – 1) how much worse the incident could have been and 2) Sandy Koufax was one brave dude. While the most notorious image from this incident is undoubtedly the one with Marichal wielding his bat like an ax over a stumbling Roseboro, what is not talked about a lot is that he wasn’t the only one wielding a bat in this fight. In a number of the above images, Marichal’s teammate and shortstop Tito Fuentes (#26) can be seen heading straight to the action, bat in his right hand coiled to strike, at both Koufax and/or Roseboro . I don’t think that it is a far-fetched thing to say that if umpire Shag Crawford doesn’t grab Marichal and prevent him from further striking Roseboro or if Fuentes connects with his bat on either Koufax or Roseboro, baseball and the world would have seen a death or even multiple deaths that day at Dodger Stadium. Koufax, for his part, can be seen in the above images courageously heading straight towards Marichal trying to get the bat out of his hands. For me, it was bravery worthy of a battlefield and it further cements the notion in my mind that Sandy Koufax was one of the most honorable and principled men ever to play the game. Another hero of that day was Army veteran Willie Mays who can be seen in one of the above photographs leading a bleeding John Roseboro off the field. Below is a link to a piece from espn.com that fills in some of the background information to what will always be one of the scariest days in baseball history.
Juan Marichal hit John Roseboro with bat in ugly baseball brawl 50 years ago.
I know I am late posting this as far as anniversary dates go , but before we leave July, I feel I have to write a post commemorating the 1970 MLB All Star game, so here goes. 45 years ago this month on July 14,1970, the 41st Major League Baseball All Star Game was held in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio and while I was an emerging baseball fanatic, I can honestly say I have no memory of this game. I remember going to one of the last games at Crosley Field earlier that Spring and I even remember going to see one of the first games at the newly christened Riverfront Stadium earlier that Summer, but of this classic game that ended with the famous Pete Rose /Ray Fosse collision, I have no personal recollection. Much is made of the fact that between the two teams, 21 Hall of Famers were on the rosters ( plus non Hall of Famer Pete Rose as well), but a quick glance at other MLB All Star games of the years immediately after it show that this was not uncommon for this time period. In fact, the 1970 All Star game was the first of four MLB All Star games in the early 1970s where the great players from that generation were on full display. Consider this fact – in each of the next three MLB All Star games following the 1970 game, there were 25, 29 and 22 Hall of Famers on the combined respective rosters of the two leagues. My personal memories of the Midsummer Classic started the year after this game with the 1971 game at Tiger Stadium when Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson all hit home runs to provide all of the scoring in a 6-4 win for the AL. Below is a collection of images from the 1970 game starting with batting practice and various players hanging out around the batting cage and ending with multiple images of the iconic Rose/Fosse collision at home plate. To me, they are priceless because they commemorate a brief moment in the summer of 1970 when so many of my baseball heroes, from my favorite generation of players, were in my hometown playing at my hometown team’s stadium. For those who may have trouble recognizing some of the more non obvious players, I have provided a link to the comprehensive box score from the game from Baseball Reference.com here – 1970 MLB All Star Game Box Score