Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Best Brawls #2: 1965 The Marichal Bat Incident

As a tribute to how meaningful this day is to the sport of baseball, I decided it would be fitting to go back into the annals of baseball history to find a particularly memorable fight. For those of you not familiar, June 2nd is a date in which quite a few important things have occured in baseball. In 1935, Babe Ruth retired on June 2nd, Lou Gehrig died on June 2nd, 1941. Ken Griffey Jr. was drafted #1 by the Mariners on June 2nd, 1987. Ted Williams left to join the Navy on June 2nd, and on and on and on. Now, this brawl that I'm about to tell you about didn't happen on June 2nd, it happened on August 22nd, but it is known as the worst fight in baseball history. You'll see why after I'm done.

Date: August 22nd, 1965 - Giant Stadium

The Catalyst:
Marichal, the pitcher for the Giants that day had hit two Dodgers players and Johnny Roseboro, the Dodger catcher signaled to Koufax (the Dodger starter) to hit Marichal with the next pitch. Koufax ignored him and so Roseboro whipped the toss back to Koufax right by Marichal's ear. During the verbal argument that ensued, Roseboro whipped off his catchers mask and the players got in each other's faces. At some point during the argument, Marichal took a full on swing which connected with Roseboro's unmasked head causing him to fall to the ground. Um....needless to say, both benches cleared. According to reports, the game was delayed by 14 minutes as things were sorted out, Roseboro was helped to the dugout (and then to the hospital where he received 14 stitches), Marichal was ejected.

The Outcome:
Honestly, when I read this, I was shocked. Juan Marichal was suspended for 9 days and fined $1,750 by Major League Baseball for hitting and injuring Johnny Roseboro with a bat. Roseboro missed a couple of days and was back in the lineup. Roseboro ended up filing a lawsuit against Marichal over the incident and it was reported to have been settled out of court for $7,000. Marichal went on to win 243 games as a pitcher and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. It's hard to believe Marichal received such a light penalty for such a terrible act. If that happened today, a player would risk being suspended for the rest of the season, if not banned from the game altogether. Interesting fact: this incident is still the only incident even in a major league game where a bat was used a weapon. A few years back it happened again in the minor leagues.

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