Juan Antonio Marichal Sánchez (born October 20 1937 in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic) is a former right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, and inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Playing for the San Francisco Giants most of his career, Marichal was known for his high leg kick, pinpoint control and wide variety of pitches. He was known for throwing a curveball, slider and screwball, in addition to the fastball and change up. And, just to mix things up further, he sometimes threw sidearm. Marichal also played for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers for the final two seasons of his career.
Marichal's delivery was renowned for one of the fullest windups in modern baseball, with a high kick of his left leg that went nearly vertical (even more so than Warren Spahn's delivery). Marichal maintained this delivery his entire career, and photographs taken near his retirement show the vertical kick only slightly diminished. The windup was the key to his delivery in that he was consistently able to conceal the type of pitch until it was on its way. The kick also served to disrupt the batter's timing.
Marichal was discovered by Ramfis Trujillo, the son of late Dominican dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Ramfis was the primary sponsor of the Dominican Air Force Baseball Team (Aviacion Dominicana), which Marichal pitched a 2-1 victory game in his native Monte Cristi. From the very moment the game ended, Marichal was a member of Aviacion Dominicana team, drafted into the Air Force right on the spot by Ramfis' orders.
Marichal entered the major leagues in 1960 with the San Francisco Giants as the second native pitcher to come from the Dominican Republic. He made an immediate impression: in his debut, on July 19, 1960, he threw a one-hit shutout (single in 8th inning by Clay Dalrymple) against the Philadelphia Phillies, walking one and striking out 12. He started 10 more games that season, finishing at 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA. He improved his victory totals to 13 and 18 over the following two seasons, respectively, before finally cracking the 20-victory plateau in 1963, when he went 25-8 with 248 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA. Marichal enjoyed similar success through the 1969 season, posting more than 20 victories in every season except 1967, and never posting an ERA higher than 2.76. He led the league in victories in 1963 and 1968 when he won 26 games. He and Sandy Koufax were the only two Major League pitchers in the post-war era (1946-present) to have more than one season of 25 or more wins. Each pitcher had three such seasons in their careers. (Bob Welch last ML pitcher for Oakland in 1990 to win 25+ & Steve Carlton of the Phillies last NL pitcher. Both pitchers won 27). Incredibly, despite winning more games during the decade of the 1960s (191) than any other major league pitcher, Marichal never received a single vote for the Cy Young Award.
Marichal finished in the top 10 in ERA seven consecutive years, starting in 1963 and culminating in 1969, in which he led the league. During his career, he also finished in the top 10 in strikeouts six times, top 10 in innings pitched eight times (leading the league twice), and top 10 in complete games 10 times. He led the league twice in shutouts, throwing 10 of them in 1965.
Marichal exhibited exceptional control. He had 2,303 strikeouts with only 709 walks, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of about than 3.25 to 1. This ranks among the top 20 pitchers of all time, ahead of such notables as Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens, who each have strikeout-to-walk ratios of less than 3:1. Over his career, he led the league in the fewest walks per nine innings four times, and finished second three times -- totaling eleven years in which he finished in the top 10, all while also finishing in the top 10 for strikeouts six years.
One regular-season game in Marichal's career deserves mention, involving him and Milwaukee Braves' Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in a night contest played July 2, 1963, before almost 16,000 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The two great pitchers matched goose-eggs until Giants superstar Willie Mays homered off Spahn to win the game 1-0 in the 16th inning. Both Spahn and Marichal tossed complete games, something that almost certainly will never happen again in the big leagues. Marichal allowed eight hits in the 16 innings, striking out 10, and saddling eventual former career home-run king Hank Aaron with an 0-for-6 collar. Spahn permitted nine hits in 15 and one-third innings, walking just one (Mays intentionally, in the 14th, after Harvey Kuenn's leadoff double) and striking out two. The game, almost the innings-duration of two contests, lasted only 4 hours, 10 minutes. (Information courtesy of Retrosheet)
Johnny Roseboro incident
Marichal is also remembered for a notorious incident that occurred on August 22, 1965, in a game played against the Giants' arch-rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Batting against Sandy Koufax in the last of the third inning, Marichal felt that one of Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro's return throws had nicked his ear. Words were exchanged, and Roseboro, throwing off his catcher's helmet and mask, rose to continue the argument. Marichal responded by hitting Roseboro's unprotected head with his bat. The benches cleared into a 14-minute brawl, while Giant captain Willie Mays escorted the bleeding Roseboro (who would require 14 stitches) back to the clubhouse.
Marichal was ejected, suspended for nine days and fined $1,750. He was also barred from attending the Giants' final series with the Dodgers, in Los Angeles on September 6-7. Photos of the incident (Official Baseball Guide 1966, Sporting News, p.19) also show Tito Fuentes (who was in the on-deck circle) wielding a bat threateningly, but Fuentes did not actually hit anyone and was not ejected. Roseboro sat out the next couple of games and returned to the lineup on the 25th. 
Roseboro filed a lawsuit against Marichal, but eventually settled out of court, supposedly for $7,000. Marichal and Roseboro would eventually go on to become close friends, reconciling any personal animosity and even autographing photographs of the brawl.
Many people in Los Angeles protested the apparently light punishment meted out, but as it was it hurt the Giants significantly. They were in a neck-and-neck pennant race with the Dodgers and the race was decided with only two games to play. Marichal's nine-day suspension, along with being barred from the Los Angeles trip, cost him at least three pitching turns, and forced the Giants to juggle their rotation to compensate. The Giants, who ended up winning the August 22 game and were down by 2 1/2 games afterward, eventually lost the pennant by 2 games. Marichal also lost his last three decisions. However, slugger Orlando Cepeda was gone for most of the year due to injuries, a factor which also hurt the Giants that season. (Sporting News Baseball Guide, p.19)
In 1970, Marichal experienced a severe allergic reaction to penicillin (following an ear infection incurred in Japan) which led to back pain and chronic arthritis. Marichal's career stumbled in 1970, when he only posted 12 wins and his ERA shot up to 4.12, before straightening itself out with a stellar 1971 season in which he won 18 games and his ERA dropped below 3.00. It was his final great season, however, as he posted 6-16 and 11-15 records in 1972 and 1973 respectively. He played briefly with the Boston Red Sox in 1974 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1975 before retiring. He finished his career with 243 victories, 142 losses, 244 complete games, 2,303 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA over 3,507 innings pitched. His teams appeared in two postseasons (in 1962 and 1971) but were not victorious in either series against the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively. Between 1962 and 1971, the Giants averaged 90 wins a season, and Marichal averaged 20 wins a year.
Juan Marichal was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 along with Brooks Robinson. His uniform number 27 has been retired by the Giants. In 1990, Marichal, who was working as a broadcaster for Spanish radio, was on hand to see his son-in-law at the time, José Rijo, win the World Series Most Valuable Player Award while pitching for Cincinnati.
In 1999, he ranked #71 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. He was honored before a game between the Giants and Oakland Athletics with a statue outside AT&T Park in 2005, and was named one of the three starting pitchers on Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team. In 1976, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter," consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Marichal was the right-handed pitcher on Stein's Latin team.
In 2008, Marichal was filmed at a cockfight in the Dominican Republic along with New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martínez. The incident caused controversy in the United States, but Martinez defended their attendance at the cockfight by saying "I understand that people are upset, but that is part of our Dominican culture and is legal in the Dominican Republic". He added "I was invited by my idol, Juan Marichal, to attend the event as a spectator, not as a participant."
The popular media tended to pronounce his surname "MARE-i-shall". West coast broadcasters tended to pronounce his name more like proper Spanish diction, "mahr-ee-CHAHL".
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- "Video showed Pedro, Marichal at cockfight" ESPN.com http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3234767]
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|National League Wins Champion
1963 (with Sandy Koufax)
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Iván Rodríguez |
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