The Fight Between Juan Marichal and John Roseboro

This is the San Francisco Chronicle’s account of how Juan Marichal came to hit Johnny Roseboro with his bat on August 22, 1965, in a Giants-Dodgers game at Candlestick in the middle of a tight pennant race:

The bat-swinging melee followed after the Dodgers had scored single runs in the first and second inning and Marichal had flattened Dodger shortstop Maury Wills when Marichal came to the plate. Koufax, now 21-5, whipped a called strike past him and then came high and inside on his next pitch. On Roseboro’s return throw to Koufax the ball ticked Marichal’s ear and Juan turned and appeared to say something to the catcher.

Manager Herman Franks said Juan told him he asked Roseboro, “Why did you do that?” and nothing more. In any event, the bad blood between these ancient rivals erupted and Johnny took a step toward Marichal, who hit the enraged Roseboro with his bat.

Koufax came down off the mound and Giant third base coach Charlie Fox dashed into the vortex of this violent cyclone, each trying to restrain his man as the crowd went out of its mind and the entire rosters of both teams spewed onto the field.

Plate umpire Shag Crawford, the bravest man on the field and caught in the middle of this violence, grabbed the now-berserk Marichal and hauled him to the ground as Dodgers furiously tried to get to Juan and Giants just as furiously tried to pull him away.

But before the Dominican righthander went down he lashed out at Roseboro with his bat and crashed it against the side of Johnny’s head, opening a wound from which poured a flow of blood. . . .


The one Giant who was not with his group was captain Willie Mays. He rushed over to the stricken Roseboro, perhaps his best friend in baseball, and tried to push him away. At one point Willie, now with his uniform spattered with the blood of his friend, placed his head gently on Roseboro’s chest and cried, “Johnny, Johnny, I’m so sorry.”

Marichal eventually was hauled to the lip of the Giant dugout, Mays still restraining the enraged Roseboro, and police came down out of the stands. Juan was thrown out of the game and Roseboro had to leave, a blood-soaked towel pressed against his bleeding head. . . .

[After retiring two batters Koufax walked Jimmy Davenport and Willie McCovey, and Mays hit the first pitch of his at-bat] over the centerfield fence between the 365 and 410 markers, and crashed above the wall of the bleachers and into the temporary red seats at Candlestick.


The Los Angeles Times account said:

“Earlier in the game, Marichal had decked Maury Wills and Ron Fairly the second time they came to bat after getting hits the first trip [in the first inning]. Koufax ‘retaliated’ with a token fast ball that sailed far over Mays’ head in the second inning.”

The Marichal-Roseboro fight delayed the game 14 minutes. The Giants won, 4-3, with Masanori Murakami getting a save by retiring Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam with two on in the ninth, and Ron Herbel getting the win by pitching 5 1/3rd innings after the Marichal ejection.

Here’s Juan Marichal’s statement the next day on clubbing Johnny Roseboro with his bat:

“First of all, I want to apologize for hitting Roseboro with my bat. I am sorry I did that. But he was coming toward me, with his mask in his hand, and I was afraid he was going to hit me with his mask, so I swung my bat. If he had only said something, I would not have swung. I hit him once, and I am sorry.

“I think the anger started on Friday night. On his  last time at bat in that game, Maury Wills was awarded first base for catcher’s interference. Our team thought Wills deliberately stepped back, forcing Tom Haller to tip Wills’ bat with his glove. So when Matty Alou came to bat in the next inning, he did the same thing, but the plate umpire, Doug Harvey, did not award him first base. Then, Roseboro yelled over at our dugout, ‘If this stuff keeps up we’re going to get one of you guys and get him good–right in the ear.’ The umpire must have heard this. And later, Roseboro repeated it to Orlando Cepeda. That is why I want him present when I meet Warren Giles.

“When I came to bat on Sunday, the first pitch was a perfect strike. The second one was a little inside. Johnny Roseboro deliberately dropped the ball so he could get behind me. Then he threw the ball back to Koufax real hard–nobody ever throws the ball back to the pitcher that hard–and it ticked my ear. I might expect Koufax to throw at me but I did not look for someone to throw at me from behind me. Then I turn around and I say, ‘Why did you do that?’ He did not say a word. He just took off his mask, and came toward me. I was afraid he was going to hit me with his mask, so I hit him with my bat. I am sorry but many times our players on the Giants are hit by pitches and sometimes hurt, and nobody says anything then.”

Oddly enough, that same day, August 24, the Chronicle Sporting Green led off its front page with a picture of San Francisco longshoreman Elmer Rush knocking out Texan Tod Herring in the fourth round of a heavyweight fight at Civic Auditorium. It’s apparently a coincidence, not a joke:


A follow-up in the L.A. Times said:

According to trainer Bill Buhler, Roseboro had a two-inch gash sustained above the forehead which was closed with butterfly stitches. “He had a knot in the middle of his skull that it would take your whole hand to cover,” Buhler said.

Roseboro was taken to the hospital for observation, but he was on the [Dodgers’] plane when it took off for the East [after the S.F. series ended].

“They can thank Mays that there wasn’t a real riot out there,” spoke up Lou Johnson, the Dodger outfielder who raced in from left field to get into the fight. “If it wasn’t for Willie Mays it could have been a lot worse. Willie did a hell of a job stopping the battle.”

The next day, Roseboro said: “There’s a knot on my head and my right hand is sore, but I’ve taken so many pills there’s no way I could have a headache.”

Here’s a Sports Illustrated article on the fight and the series it took place in, and here’s the San Francisco Chronicle taking a look at the fight 40 years later. A recent interview of Marichal by Bob Costas talks about the fight and what led up to it at some length.

Also, in James S. Hirsch’s bio of Mays, he quotes Roseboro saying somewhere, probably in his own autobiography, that when Marichal hit him, “I forgot all the fancy fighting I’d ever learned and went after him as if it was an alley fight. . . . I didn’t see anything clearly. It was all confusion. My head didn’t hurt much, but I had blood all over me and could see I was still bleeding. I was mad that he had hit me with a bat and mad that I’d only gotten in one blow, which I didn’t think had hurt him. As Marichal ran toward the dugout, I chased him.” That was when Mays got Roseboro under control and took him into the Dodgers dugout.

Roseboro died in 2002, 37 years after the fight. At the memorial service, Marichal said Roseboro’s “forgiving me was one of the best things that happened in my life . . . When I became a Dodger player, John told all the Dodger fans to forget what happened that day. It takes special people to forgive.” When the New York Times wrote Roseboro’s obituary, it said:

The previous Friday night, Maury Wills, the Dodgers’ shortstop, hit the glove of the Giants’ catcher, Tom Haller, on a backswing, and in the next inning, the Giants’ Matty Alou hit Roseboro’s glove on a swing. Roseboro believed that Alou was deliberately trying to hit his bare hand. . . .

While Marichal was batting in the third inning, Roseboro whizzed the ball close to Marichal’s head as he returned a pitch delivered by Koufax. Then Roseboro, still wearing his mask, moved toward Marichal, who responded by unleashing at least two overhead swings of his bat, hitting Roseboro on the head. The attack opened a bloody two-inch gash and raised a large lump. Roseboro grabbed Marichal, and the players poured from both benches in a scuffle that lasted 15 minutes.

Marichal, who was ejected from the game, apologized the next day but said that Roseboro had nicked his ear on the return throw to Koufax and that he thought Roseboro was going to hit him with his mask.

“I think he was scared and he flipped the panic button,” Roseboro said the next day.

Marichal was suspended for eight playing dates and fined $1,750 by the National League president, Warren Giles. He missed two chances to make starting appearances, something that might have cost the Giants the pennant since they finished two games behind the Dodgers.

Roseboro returned to the lineup only three days after the attack, but he sued Marichal later that year for $110,000 in damages. The case was settled in February 1970, with Roseboro reportedly receiving $7,500. . . .

After years of bitterness, Roseboro and Marichal appeared together occasionally at old-timers’ games and golf tournaments.

“Our friendship is very good,” Marichal said in 1990, on the 25th anniversary of the bat attack.

Roseboro told The Los Angeles Times on that occasion that he had begun speaking to Marichal in the early 1980s because he felt the violent episode was keeping Marichal — a winner of 243 games-out of the Hall of Fame unjustly.

“There were no hard feelings on my part, and I thought if that was made public, people would believe that this was really over with,” Roseboro said. “So I saw him at a Dodger old-timers’ game and we posed for pictures together and I actually visited him in the Dominican. The next year, he was in the Hall of Fame.

“Hey, over the years you learn to forget things.”

I happened to catch Ron Fairly, the Dodgers’ right fielder in this game, talking about the Dodgers-Giants rivalry in the ’60s and his view of this fracas. He said Orlando Cepeda came out of the Giants’ dugout with a bat, and L.A. base coach Danny Ozark, a big guy who’d been in World War II, threatened to knock him out if Cepeda didn’t drop it; Cepeda did drop it. Fairly also credited Willie Mays with helping calm everything down. Fairly didn’t say anything in the way of directing blame or criticizing Marichal, or anyone else.

[Look down at the comments for two accounts of this fracas from people who actually attended the game. If you’re interested in the history of the L.A.-S.F. rivalry, I’ve dug up the Chronicle’s coverage of the first L.A. Dodgers-S.F. Giants game, on April 15, 1958. Also, I’ve described a more serious assault with a bat that occurred the spring after Marichal-Roseboro, in May 1966, in Vancouver, B.C.]

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  1. […] 4.   Juan Marichal v. John Roseboro 1965: This goes down as one of the best baseball fights in the history of sports. It was a game on August 22, 1965, a game in the middle of a classic pennant race between the Giants (featuring Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, and Willie McCovey) and the Dodgers (with Sandy Koufax, and Maury Wills). Early in the game, Marichal had beaned Wills with a fastball, and in retaliation, Koufax (who was 21-5 at the time, 21-5 in the middle of August!!) threw a high and tight fastball, just missing Marichal. On the return throw to the pitcher, Roseboro nicked Marichal’s ear. Like anyone else, this pissed Marichal off. He proceeded to turn around and savagely beat Roseboro in the head with his bat, opening up a giant gash across his forehead and splattering both men’s uniforms with blood….. Let’s recap here… He beat him with a freaking bat!?!?!! If that happened today, he would be suspended for life and spend a year in prison. But this was 1965, so things were handled a little differently. Final damage done: 8 day suspension and  a 1,750 dollar fine for Marichal, as well as a 7,500 dollar court settlement with Roseboro and being black-balled from the Hall of Fame for years. (Only Roseboro publicly campaigning for Marichal’s induction got him into the Hall.) Insane. […]

  2. It isn’t “Insane” – we had a truly “kinder, gentler” world then. I know, I was just a boy then, but this never shook my love for baseball, it was just “a fight” and there were fights even in Little Leagues were I played. There wasn’t the constant out of control “spin” of too mucj coverage that feeds the current frenzy of oft over reaction and penalty. If the attackee can forgive, why can’t WE was the rule and should still BE.

  3. It WAS insane. I don’t care what year it was. You don’t attack someone with a bat. He got off way too easy. He used the bat as a weapon, peroid. I know ’cause I was just a boy then, also. But I also know right from wrong and striking anybody with a bat is just wrong. He should have been arrested. Just because Roseboro forgave Marichal doesn’t make it right. A kinder, gentler world back then? Give me a break. Vietnam going on, riots all over the south. Threats of nuclear war. But, if you were a kid back then you didn’t know this stuff because your parents kept all the bad news from you to protect you.

  4. Only been in Candlestick park one time in my life, but this was the time. I just got a message from a friend on facebook that i havn’t seen in 30 years asking me if I remember us being there. I remember it as well as anything I witnesed my entire life. I’ve told the story so many times over the years I deicided to google it to see how good my memory had been. On the major details just about perfect. I’ve always said that I remember it was Marichal vs Koufax and Mays hit a home run a little later to win the game. Also rememberd that Willie and Sandy were both trying to be peace makers. And my last memory was of Roseboro walking up the 1st baseline leaving the stadium to the loudest boo’s that I’ve ever heard in my life. WE were just a couple of 14 year old kids witnessing a little bit of history.

  5. It’s the only ball game I’ve ever been to. I was 17. My dad took my brother and me. I remember dad ‘staying warm’ with his pocket flask. It was a good game and then the s**t his the fan. We were sitting in the top tier on the third base line. It looked like Marichal was just trying to protect himself and he just happened to have a bat in his hand. Roseboro looked like he was on the offensive. What a rubarb!! Those were the days. Actually, Koufax was one of my heros even though I was a Giants fan. Mays, McCovey, Alou, all the other fine players. Amazing that I was there for that one game. What a piece of history

  6. Yikes, that sounds crazy! I couldn’t imagine with today’s media how that would have played out.

  7. The only reason I forgive that horrible man Juan Marichal is because one of my boyhood heros Johnny Roseboro did. Roseboro was the better man.
    Let me tell you something. (First of all, I did see the game on TV.) Juan attacked John with NO provocation whatsoever. Juan was known to be an extreme hothead. He was upset that day to begin with, because he had to face the best pitcher in major league baseball having his best season ever, Mr. Sandy Koufax.
    So Juan was up to his old ticks, throwing at batters that got a hit off him, like Maury Wills for instance. He knew he wasn’t as talented as Sandy (and who was), so he resorted to the only thing in his life that he knew how to do well. VIOLENCE. Anything to change his fate that day. What an A##^^%LE. Ok maybe I don’t forgive him. Sandy Koufax=Class. Juan Marichal=Dumbass.

  8. I love the Giants When I was a Kid! Went to all the games it was amazing At one point we had B Bonds, Willie Mays, and George Foster in the Same outfield with Juan and G perry pitching! It was like they were a mono myth! The Big Red machine had Rose, Bench, Morgan, They were awesome! The Pirates had Stragel, And Parker Parker through a Giant out from the fence in Right field the fence! It was a perfect strike! I saw Juan Pitch many games he did not loose many! he was an A plus pitcher! and a true Giant! If I was A yankee, their batters have been hit by eight pitches they need to do a little Juan to make sure the pitchers who hit them have consequences to their actions! I think the Yankees are too nice! Go Giants!

  9. The iincident was kicked off by Roseboro’s throw back to Sandy Koufax which was completly premedicated.
    Everybody seems to low keying this fact. Roseboro’s angry throw nicked Juan’s ear. Just a fraction of an inch difference in its flight may very well have killed
    Juan or fractured his skull.
    Juan might very well been in shock when John then took off his mask and rushed at him.

    There a series of 5 photos that chronicle what happened after Juan hit him with his bat. Juan retreats as John chases him for three frames. When Roseboro catches him
    Juan delivers the blow with his bat that really causes the damage. Since Roseboro outweighed by 40 pounds you might interpret that as self defense…remembering that Juan is still in a state of shock.

    You can find these photos in the book “A Splash Hit”
    on page 35. The title does not refer to this incident but instead to the opening of the Giants home park,
    Pacfic Bell Park, now known as AT&T Park.

    Bill Boggie
    AT&T Park Tour Guide

  10. i think Juan did nothing rong he just git scared

  11. he thought they did it on purpose

  12. […] years ago, when I found it on an list of infamous brawls while looking for material for my post on the Marichal-Roseboro brawl. Here’s some of the Durham Herald-Sun’s account of the game: The hostilities began in […]

  13. Roseboro got what was coming to him. End story. Dirty Dodgers.

  14. Marichal, dirty f–king Bea..r

  15. Greg,learn how to spell!

  16. My lady friend and I were watching the game from seats near 3rd base. Suddenly, Marichal and Roseboro began fighting at home plate and both teams quickly joined the brawl. At the time we didn’t know what had started it. After the game resumed, Koufax was obviously disrupted and soon gave up Mays’ dramatic game-winning 3-run homer. After the game ended, we ran to our car, turned on the radio, and found out what had happened.

  17. I was 11 years old and a HUGE Dodger fan, even though I lived in Northern California. Koufax was my idol. My father, brother, neighbor and I were at the game. They were all Giant fans. It was a big game in the pennant race. One of the few times that Koufax faced Marichal. Usually, it was Drysdale against Marichal. I was sitting behind home plate about 15 rows from the backstop. We could see the blood pouring from Roseboro and Mays helping him with a towel. After the delay, Koufax gave up the big homer to Mays and the Dodgers ended up losing the game – but went on to win the pennant and the World Series.

  18. Been a Dodger fan since 1964. Koufax and Wills were my favorite Dodgers, but Willie Mays was then and to this day the greatest ball player in all aspects ive ever seen, and the fact that both Koufax and Mays were responsible for stopping that brawl, well, all i can say is that not only just that day but ever since, they are 2 of the best ive ever had the priveledge of watching play the game!!! Four words come to mind about them, Class act, and Greatest ever!!! Thank You!!

  19. I was 12 and we had seats behind home plate. After the first pitch, Marichal looked back and said something to Roseboro; his head snapped around. The next pitch, you could tell Roseboro whipped one by his ear, and Marichal turned, put the bat over his head and swung down like he was splitting firewood. I remember Shag Crawford flying out backwards from this huge group of players like he was thrown out. I remember seeing Orlando Cepeda come flying out of the dugout with a bat in his right hand and his eyes were aflame; you could see it from the stands. Willie Mays was right behind him and grabbed him. If it hadn’t been for Willie, it would have been much worse.

  20. People should remember that in addition to the provocation by Roseboro, there were some pretty traumatic events going on at that time. The so-called Watts Riot had gone on the week before (august 11 through 17), and the whole state was on edge. As a black man in Los Angeles, Roseboro must have been pretty tense. And in the Dominican Republic, Marichal’s home, where his family lived, the US Marines had invaded and there was a military coup in April 1965. The US occupation continued and so did guerrilla fighting until a truce was declared at the end of August 1965. So the occupation and street fighting were still going on at the time of this baseball game.
    Athletes do not live outside of the real world.

  21. I grew up in the Bay Area and was in 5th grade when the Giants came to SF. I attended many games over the years through August 1965 when I went to war. I did not see this fight but studied about it over the years and bought a copy of the picture of Marichal hitting Roseboro with the bat. I keep it as a reminder of the blood-fued between these two ball teams. Forget blaming any one person. The teams hate each other, pure and simple.

  22. Completely false that Marichal beaned Wills or anybody in that game. All you have to do is look at the boxscore to see that.

  23. You’re correct, Craig. According to Willie Mays in his autobiography “Say Hey” (Simon & Schuster 1988), Mays said that Marichal threw a pitch right at the head of Maury Wills, then a “close” pitch to the next batter, Fairly. No mention was made of hitting any batter.

  24. Willie Mays is less reliable than a boxscore. He’s right that Fairly was the other Dodger who was “dusted” by Marichal that day, but he was not the next batter. He hit three slots after Wills and did not bat until the next inning. Incidentally, Marichal had a very low HBP rate both in his career and in 1965. It was about half the league rate per inning.

  25. Well, I’m just quoting Mays in his autobiography. Mays was watching from the bench. I wasn’t there. I doubt that you were either.

  26. I never made a point of where I was and you are well out of line in trying to make that an issue. I cited the boxscore as my source, and I did not say Mays was less reliable than me — I specifcally wrote that he was less reliable than a boxscore.

    My point is that if you wanted to confirm, it would have been better to do so with the easily available online sources such as Google’s newspaper archives or It was silly to choose to go to a LESS reliable source, an eyewitness writing about an emotionally charged memory from over 20 years ago, and someone with possible prejudice as well. I tried to make that point by demonstrating how unreliable Mays’ actual memory was by pointing out his dramatic but incorrect detail that Fairly was the next batter.

    (In regard to my agreeing with Mays that Fairly was the other batter involved, that was in the newspaper accounts at the time.)

  27. I was there. I saw it all happen. I was 17 yrs old, the summer after my Junior year of High School…..and avid Giants fan!…I kept score of every game since 1962. I sat on the second level above 3rd base. when Juan Marichal raised his bat to hit Roseboro, it started a “melee”, and it took Willie Mays to break it up!….he ran in and pulled everyone off. he was so respected that no one dared challenge him….then, against Sandy Koufax, the best picture ever, Willie hit a 3 run homer over left center field, and the giants won 5-4!……The best game I ever saw, and this time I was there “in person” to see it LIVE!….philip brown, Los Altos California (Now in Newcastle, CA)

  28. my error, I thought it was 5-4, but I see the score was 4-3….a great close game as always in those days …..philip brown

  29. The rivalry between these two clubs is the best there is in all of baseball including the one between the Yank and Red Sox’s. Given that it has carried over sense it 1st began so long ago in Yankee Stadium and Ebbits flield to AT&T Park and Chaviz Ravine and let’s hope it never ever escalates to violence like it did that hot August day in 1965. I was glad to see forgiveness and even friendship developed between John & Juan while they both were alive and hopefully we can all learn that having this rivalry is great and also just like SF great Willie Mays showed us it is the responsiblity for all of us to help keep it safe and sane at all times for it is a baseball game after all for God sake not a war of nations or cities. Go Dodgers…

  30. oh btw I was a young boy of 12 when this happen and remember it was the talk of the town as we all listen with great interest not only due to it being a Dodger and Giant game with its rich history of being rivals but also for the many greats of the baseball world that were in this brawl that day

  31. I remember this incident like the game were played just yesterday. My wife and I and another couple were seated halfway between third and home, we had just had our first child four months earlier. I’ve repeated the story many times to others but what always comes to mind first and foremost is Willie Mays. He was most instrumental in bringing things under control, it could have been much worse if not for Willie. Then when play resumed, Mays like only he could do, took the great Sandy Koufax deep and all you could do was just say “unbelievable”.

  32. Thanks so much for sharing that.

  33. The San Francisco Giants are scum. And always will be.

  34. Juan Marichal hitting our beloved Johnny Roseboro with a friggin’ BAT was a seminal moment for me at age 13. The Giants will NEVER live that down.

  35. Juan Marichal was just a chump with a hot head and lost control. As Roseboro said, “Put me and him in a room together…….”

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