Wood toward the Spherical Object

The wrong way to use a baseball bat

In considering the superiority of the baseball bat over its cricket counterpart as a means to quell civil unrest (an oxymoron), Exhibit A might be the August 22, 1965, incident involving Hall of Fame San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro. (Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax was minimally involved.) As the character Dugan says to the priest played by Karl Malden in On the Waterfront, “I’m doing OK considering they were using my head for a baseball.” Marichal was being ridden by Dodgers on the bench for throwing too close to their batters. Koufax refused to retaliate. In light of this, when Roseboro threw the baseball back to Koufax, he made sure it would come close to Marichal’s head. “I felt it tick my ear,” Marichal proclaimed. In the ugliest incident I have ever seen or heard about on a baseball field, Marichal turned and hit Roseboro on the head from the batters’ box. (For those taking otherwise-understandable exception to my [Evander’s] controversial view that Pete Rose and Denny McLain ought to be inducted in The National Baseball Hall of Fame, note that Juan Marichal is nonetheless a Hall of Famer. Ty Cobb, who sharpened his spikes to the sharpness of a Gillette razor [if not Occam’s Razor], and might generally be the most-hated individual ever to play baseball, was the first player enshrined in Cooperstown. Roberto Alomar, recently inducted, even spit at an umpire.)


About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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2 Responses to Wood toward the Spherical Object

  1. Arne says:

    Actually, I’ve looked up information about another even uglier incident, in a AAA game in Vancouver, B.C. in 1966. Vancouver’s Santiago Rosario hit Seattle Angels’ catcher Merritt Ranew over the head with his bat, putting him in a coma for three days.

    • Thank you, Arne. Both incidents are separated by only one year. Of course, catchers at that time, at least in the major leagues, did not wear a helmet: The mask went right over the baseball cap. Such would make an attack even more vicious. We may do a podcast on violence in baseball, cricket, and society.

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