Video: The Ugliest Brawl In Dodgers-Giants History Took Place 50 Years Ago Today
The Dodgers and the Giants have one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in sports, but thankfully most of the time that is left in the game.
Unfortunately, one of the ugliest brawls in baseball history is a part of this rivalry, and it happened 50 years ago today when Giants ace Juan Marichal hit Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro in the head with his bat.
The Dodgers and Giants, rivals back to their origins in New York City, were in the thick of a heated pennant race in the 1965 season. Because there were no divisions or wild card slots yet, only the team with the best record in both the American and National Leagues would go on to play in the World Series.
It was a Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park in San Francisco that day, and the final game of a testy four-game series between the two teams. It was a marquee matchup, as Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax would face off against Juan Marichal. Marichal had plunked the Dodgers' Maury Wills and Koufax, who notably was hesitant to intentionally hit batters, threw one over Willie Mays' head in response.
Finally, things came to a head in the bottom of the third inning when Marichal came to bat. When throwing a ball back to his pitcher, Roseboro buzzed it perilously close to Marichal's face. "Why you do that, coño?!" the player nicknamed The Dominican Dandy barked at Roseboro, setting off the powder keg. Marichal struck Roseboro in the head twice with his Louisville Slugger, leaving a giant gash above his eye that needed 14 stitches.
"Fights that erupt under pennant pressure are not unusual, but they are always fist fights," said the New York Times recap of the game. "Players, coaches and managers of both teams here could not recall ever seeing an attack with a bat."
The respective leaders of each team, Koufax and Mays, each helped in breaking up the fight. Mays was a close friend of Roseboro, and in another less-seen photo of the fight, can been seen leading his bloodied friend to the dugout.
Marichal would be suspended for 8 games and fined $1,750, and he would later settle with Roseboro in court for $7,500. Although Marichal is often seen as the aggressor that day (he did swing at bat at Roseboro's head, after all), Roseboro did admit that he intentionally ticked off Marichal. "It was intentional all right," he said in his autobiography of the throw that grazed Marichal's head. "I meant for him to feel it."
As for the game on that day in 1965, the Giants would win 4-3. The Dodgers, however, would go on to win the National League pennant, beating the Giants by 2 games and go on to win the World Series that year. Koufax would win the Cy Young Award, and Mays was the National League MVP.
Despite the beating that Marichal inflicted on Roseboro, the two would make amends later on, becoming close friends after their careers were over. Roseboro even lobbied to have Marichal be inducted into the Hall of Fame, telling the voters to not hold the ugly brawl against him. Marichal became the first Dominican player in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.
At Roseboro's funeral in 2002, Marichal was a pallbearer and told the congregation, "I wish I could have had John Roseboro as my catcher."
Juan Marichal reflects on the brawl with Bob Costas