Juan Marichal, the Dandy Dominican

The Dandy Dominican, Marichal

As San Francisco morphed into the headquarters for counterculture, with the intersection of Haight and Ashbury becoming as well known to hippies as that of Hollywood and Vine to fans of show business, Juan Marichal fired fastballs for the Giants, a team transplanted from a ballpark approximately 3,000 miles eastward. The “Dandy Dominican” would construct a Hall of Fame career. One boosted by a lineup of fellow Cooperstown-bound teammates Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, and Orlando Cepeda.

In a Hall of Fame Strat-O-Matic matchup of pre-1960 American Leaguers and post-1960 National Leaguers, Marichal would notch nine strikeouts in a 9-5 victory for the senior circuit players. The lineups:

Pre-1960 American League

CF — Ty Cobb

LF — Goose Goslin

1B — Hank Greenberg

RF — Babe Ruth

3B — Home Run Baker

2B — Charlie Gehringer

SS — Joe Sewell

C — Bill Dickey

P — Walter Johnson

Post-1960 National League

LF — Lou Brock

2B — Joe Morgan

RF — Hank Aaron

CF — Willie Mays

C — Johnny Bench

SS — Ernie Banks

3B — Eddie Mathews

1B — Frank Chance

P — Juan Marichal

Each team was allowed to have one player from outside the time parameter. The American League kept within it. The National League would end up using Frank Chance.

Marichal surrendered solo home runs to Gehringer and Johnson, respectively, in addition to a Greenberg two-run dinger with Goslin on base. Courtesy of a rare error by Mr. Cub, no less. And the pitcher known as the “Dandy Dominican” would help his own cause. Singling in the bottom of the second inning, moving to second when Morgan walked after Brock flied out to right, and scoring on an Aaron double.

July 19, 1960 would mark his first appearance in a Major League game, scoring 12 strikeouts in a two-hit, 2-0 victory. The righty’s initial three games—against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee—would contribute as many wins to the Giants’ 79-75 season record. Milwaukee skipper Charlie Dressen lobbied the umpires during the third inning of the Braves-Giants game, complaining that Marichal broke the rule regarding a pitcher’s position on the mound. Marichal planted himself on the rubber’s location closest to first base, though he told Curley Grieve of the San Francisco Examiner that umpires had never raised the issue. “I’m used to that position and I think it helps my curve ball, especially against right-handed hitters,” said Marichal in Grieve’s article “Marichal Delivery Illegal?”

Dressen wanted Marichal to pitch from the middle of the rubber, insisting after the game that his argument was sound.

Marichal, all of 22 years old in his rookie year, would receive accolades from teammate and fellow Dominican Felipe Alou after the troika of games indicating future greatness. “Juan used to throw harder. We played for the same team. Escogido in the Dominican winter league, and he burned them in. Every year he learns a little more, he gets a new pitch. Now he’s more clever with curves and sliders to go with his fast ball.” Art Rosenbaum of the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Alou in his article “Juan Marichal a Baseball ‘Phee-nom,’” which also encapsulated Marichal’s minor league career in Class D (Midwest League), Class A (Eastern League), and AAA (Pacific Coast League).

Marichal would finish his rookie year with a 6-2 record. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983, Marichal compiled a 243-142 career win-loss record over 16 years. An ignominious mark on an outstanding career occurred when he came to bat in a 1965 contest against the Dodgers. One that would be marked by Sandy Koufax and Marichal hurling brush-back pitches. When Dodgers catcher John Roseboro threw the ball back to Koufax, it came too close for comfort—Marichal claimed it nicked his ear. Retaliation erupted with Marichal bashing Roseboro’s head with his bat. Roseboro left the game with several stitches and Marichal received a suspension lasting 10 games, a $1,750 fine, and a settlement of litigation with Roseboro amounting to $7,500.

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