Saturday, August 1, 2009

Juan Marichal's Bat

On the Juan Marichal page of the Baseball Library there's a wonderful description of one of the most unforgettable moments in Major League Baseball.

On August 22, 1965, Marichal faced Sandy Koufax at Candlestick Park in the heat of a tight pennant race. The Giants and Dodgers had come close to a brawl two days earlier over catcher's interference calls. Los Angeles's Maury Wills had allegedly tipped Tom Haller's mitt with his bat on purpose, and Marichal's best friend, Matty Alou, retaliated by tipping John Roseboro's face mask. Roseboro nearly beaned Alou with his return throw to the mound. In the August 22 game, Marichal had flattened Wills and Ron Fairly with pitches when Roseboro purportedly asked Koufax to hit Marichal. When Koufax refused, Roseboro's return throw came close to Marichal's head. Name-calling ensued, until Roseboro suddenly ripped off his mask and stood up. Marichal rapped the catcher on the head with his bat. What followed was one of the most violent brawls in major league history. Willie Mays led away Roseboro, who had suffered a concussion, while Dodger Bob Miller tackled Marichal, Alou slugged Miller, and Tito Fuentes menaced the Dodgers with his bat. Roseboro sued Marichal, but eventually dropped the suit. Marichal was fined $1750, was suspended for a week, and missed two starts as the Giants finished two games behind the Dodgers. Years later, Marichal said, "I feel sorry that I used the bat."

I remember it well. As a 12-year-old who idolized Koufax and followed the Dodgers, I was deeply impressed with the explosive behaviour of Marichal. I looked for a video clip, but one site said there aren't even many photos of this famous incident. I hadn't thought of it in many years until I read mention of it in Denis A. Henigan's new book, Lethal Logic.

Henigan uses this in his chapter devoted to debunking the old "guns don't kill people, people kill people" mantra. It's a great read which I recommend to anyone interested in guns. On page 22, he says, "What would have happened if the Giants' right-hander had a Glock strapped to his waist?"

Please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. So someone can't control his temper, and since he doesn't have a gun, uses a baseball bat. Sounds to me like the person has a problem. Clearly, the gun didn't have any magical properties that caused him to be violent. The baseball bat didn't either. In fact, if they were only playing poker, he still would have taken a swing at the other guy. Thanks for a great example of how people lose their temper and lash out at others, regardless of what instrument they have.

  2. Sorry Reputo, that doesn't fly. What the story points out is that when a violent person lashes out with something other than a gun, the chances of the victim surviving are better. That's the point,

  3. Bingo! You hit the nail on the head. "When a violent person lashes out" is the problem. Whether he uses a gun or a baseball bat is irrelevant. The person is the problem. He has commited a crime (assault). Are we suppose to feel morally superior if we allow people to assault people with baseball bats as opposed to guns? That I believe is your problem. You see guns as evil and therefore whatever crime is committed with them is more evil. I see criminals as evil, and I don't care what tools they use.

    As to the point that guns are lethal. Have you ever actually looked at statistics of the survival rate from gunshot wounds? I don't know that anyone would argue that guns are not lethal, but so is a pedestrian getting hit by a car. The fact that a tool can be lethal is no reason to develop policy around. In the end:
    "Guns kill people, because some violent person pulled the trigger; baseball bats kill people, because some violent person took a swing. Neither one does anything sitting in my house (even when I move the ammunition really close to them). - Reputo