Thursday, November 18, 2010

August 22, 1965 at Candlestick Park

Juan Marichal, the Domincan Dandy, was 19-9, 1.73ERA. Sandy Koufax, the nicknameless one, was 21-8, with an ERA of 2.10.

In the Roseboro-Marichal incident it really began the day before. When leadoff hitter, Maury Wills squared around to bunt, Giant catcher Tom Haller moved forward just then Wills pulled his bat back making contact with Haller's glove or mask. Catcher's interference was awarded. This was something Wills had in his bag of tricks and it atagonized the Giants.

Manager Herman Franks instructed Matty Alou to do the same thing Wills had done (as Alou was the leadoff hitter in the Giants' half of the inning).

Roseboro, who replaced Roy Campanella, had been the Dodger receiver since the team moved to LA. A stout, rugged, gold-glover who tried to unnerve hitters with his taunting and was unapologetic in his calling for knockdown pitches. "When a hitter is standing on top of the plate, fearless and swinging from his ass, you have to move him back," said the Dodger backstop.

Alou squared to bunt and pulled the bat back, but no interference was called. The move, however, distracted Roseboro, and the pitch missed his glove and smacked him in the chest protector. Roseboro was outraged. "You weasel bastard!" he snarled. Roseboro was going to get him.

From the bench, Franks and Marichal began barking at Roseboro. Roseboro was not one to back down. He yelled back, ridiculed Franks about his weight. Marichal yelled that Alou had only attempted what Wills had done one-half inning earlier.

Roseboro blared, "The next time something like that happens, you're going to get hit in the head with the ball."

Johnny Roseboro had invited trouble and it would come to him in a force he couldn't handle.

Next day, it was Marichal vs. Koufax.
Wills was the leadoff hitter. He leadoff with a bunt single. Later scoring on a double by Ron Fairly.

Wills' next at-bat, the Dominican Dandy dusted him off. Roseboro didn't like that, Wills was Johnny's roommate.

Top of the 3rd inning, Dodgers-2 Giants-1. Marichal moved Fairly off the plate and the Dodger bench began to bark.

Marichal was due to leadoff in the Giants' half of the inning and Roseboro lost all hope in Koufax dusting Marichal off. "Koufax was constitutionally incapable of throwing at anyone's head, so I decided to take matters into my own hands," Roseboro would say later.

Roseboro went to the mound and told Koufax to throw the ball down and in which would position him to buzz Marichal from behind the plate (on the throw back to the pitcher). First pitch was a strike. Next pitch was low and inside. Roseboro dropped the ball, picked it up and fired it back to Koufax. Marichal later said the ball nicked his ear.

Marichal turned around and yelled, "Why did you do that?" "You better not hit me with that ball!" According to Marichal, Roseboro cursed his mother. By the time Koufax, third base coach Charlie Fox and home plate umpire Shag Crawford could intervene, Marichal had struck Roseboro three times with glancing blows. Crawford stopped the swings by grabbing Marichal and throwing him to the ground.

Los Angeles rookie pitcher, Mike Kekich, had one arm around Marichal's neck but was not able to deliver the decisive punch. Afterwards Kekich says, "I blew it." (Kekich and former Yankee teammate, Fritz Peterson swapped wives. The swinger-who could connect with the ladies, was unable to help his Dodger teammate. Not very credible. More like dirtbag.)

Dodger coach, Danny Ozark was quoted as saying that Marichal 'was asking Roseboro to come and get some more. I guess. A guy like that would hit a woman." What do you mean, 'I guess.' And if he knew nothing of Roseboro's tactics while being positioned behind the plate his comments are no less credible than Mike Kekich's.

Koufax was so shaken by what had taken place that he walked the next two batters before Willie Mays. Mays launched a pitch for a home run and the Giants took a 4-2 lead. The Giants would win the game 4-3.

Though Roseboro admitted to starting the fight he wasn't disciplined. Are you kidding? So I guess, according to the powers that be, he got what he deserved? Marichal was fined $1,750. And 8 games (which came to 3 starts).

I have trouble with the decision not to discipline Roseboro.
Had Roseboro not went to the lengths he did to try to scare the beejeezus out of any hitter who he thought wasn't playing properly (as if Roseboro was judge, jury and ghostwriter of the infamous book of Unwritten Rules of Baseball) he wouldn't have tempted fate. But Roseboro did tempt fate and fate came-a-knocking.

Moral? Don't look for trouble or better yet, don't think you're big and bad enough to take the law (Rules of Game according to how you deem them) into your own hands. And that goes for San Francisco, San Mateo, Daly City and South San Francisco's finest.

We want umpires to protect the integrity of the game but nothing more than that. We don't need attitudinal punks over-officiating. Same with the police. We want you to protect us from those whose ignorance for the law should not be tolerated. If someone violates something or someone else, then apprehend the offender. But don't go looking for trouble and abusing your authority. Because then you lose respect.

Roseboro thought because he was bigger and badder than most ballplayers that he could bully his way around. Look what happened on August 22, 1965? A man much smaller than he was scared into self-defense any way he knew how. And that guy who defended himself was the one found guilty not the one who admittedly went out of his way to start what would be a very ugly event.

Blind justice, once again.

(August 22, 1965 came from the James Hirsch autobiography of Willie Mays.)

Kevin J. Marquez