Fight of Their Lives

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Overview

The story of baseball's most violent incident—August 22, 1965—when Giants pitcher Juan Marichal clobbered Dodgers catcher John Roseboro with his bat: the stories of the players, the American cultural backdrop, and the baseball competition and culture that led to the explosive moment, plus the incident's lasting effects.
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The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball's Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption

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Overview

The story of baseball's most violent incident—August 22, 1965—when Giants pitcher Juan Marichal clobbered Dodgers catcher John Roseboro with his bat: the stories of the players, the American cultural backdrop, and the baseball competition and culture that led to the explosive moment, plus the incident's lasting effects.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/17/2014
Arriving just in time for the opening of Spring Training, this dual-biography of San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher John Roseboro is told through the prism of a fateful Sunday in August 1965, when one man struck the other in the head with a baseball bat. Marichal's shocking and defiant act, which resulted in 14 stitches above Roseboro's left eye, occurred in the heat of a pennant race between bitter rivals, set against a violent backdrop of civil war in the pitcher's native Dominican Republic and the racially provoked Watts neighborhood riots in South Central Los Angeles. In alternating chapters, Rosengren (Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes) provides insightful context as he chronicles the surprisingly similar lives of both men—their childhoods in humble homes, their remarkable defensive skills on the field, the prejudices they faced as minorities in Major League Baseball's segregated culture of the 1960s, and the shared animosity they ultimately channeled into friendship and forgiveness. Hardcore fans will crave more details about each player's overall career, but those are available elsewhere. Rosengren's retelling, true to its title, pivots on one historic incident that overshadows the other, more significant accomplishments of both men. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"When I heard the news that two baseball idols, admired by thousands of fans, gave the example of forgiving a past incident with a simple handshake, it gave me great satisfaction. John Rosengren's excellent account of the story made me appreciate their act of kindness even more." —Tony Pérez, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame "John Rosengren has spun a masterpiece with the skill of Juan Marichal's pitching and John Roseboro's catching." —Jim Kaplan, author of The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn,and the Pitching Duel of the Century "John Rosengren does a terrific job illuminating the people and times behind one of the ugliest incidents in baseball history. The friendship and forgiveness between Juan Marichal and John Roseboro is a powerful story well told." —Tom Verducci, senior writer for Sports Illustrated"This is a story about passion and pride. It's a story about two men who came from very different backgrounds but shared a common bond. It is also a story about forgiveness with a theme that shows it's never too late to make amends. John Rosengren extraordinarily depicts how two men long since retired taught the world a valuable lesson—that it is okay to forgive." —Andre Dawson, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame"With the perspective of a sociologist and narrative mastery of a deft storyteller, John Rosengren tells the intertwined stories of two men on a collision course seemingly since they were born. Rosengren builds to the bloody Sunday that shocked the baseball world, and then, in its haunting aftermath, tells how the two principals eventually faced down their guilt to forgive each other. This is fascinating reading on multiple levels—as baseball story, as case study in American socio-cultural history, and as subtle commentary on the inherent frailty, occasional ugliness, and ultimate grace of the human condition." —Josh Pahigian, author of several baseball books, including The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip and 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out "In an explosive decade, against the backdrop of baseball's fiercest rivalry, amid the pressure of a pennant race, Juan Marichal and John Roseboro forged a moment that stood still forever—The Fight of Their Lives. John Rosengren tells how it improbably led from hostility via regret and guilt to healing and finally love. An incredible odyssey, beautifully told." —Curt Smith, author of Voices of The Game and The Voice: Mel Allen's Untold Story"Author John Rosengren did baseball, Marichal and Roseboro a great service by re-opening this horrific episode and shedding light on the entire story. He presents us almost a fairy tale—two good people brought together in a significant conflict which got resolved over the years and everyone lived happily ever after…. This is a beautiful story of forgiveness, told factually, yet sympathetically, with a very emotional ending." —Spitball magazine
Library Journal
★ 02/15/2014
The "fight of their lives" refers to one of baseball's nastiest incidents, right alongside Ty Cobb leaping into the stands to pummel a disabled fan who was heckling him. On August 22, 1965, San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal clubbed Dodgers catcher John Roseboro over the head with his bat. Rosengren (Hank Greenberg) tells the story of each man's life before and after the event. He also illuminates mitigating circumstances in the form of the heated Giants-Dodgers rivalry, a tight pennant race, the African American Roseboro's concerns about the Watts riots, and the Dominican Marichal's about revolution in his homeland. Largely it is a story of regrets. Marichal's are obvious, since an essentially good man was vilified, but Roseboro also had regrets because he realized that he provoked the attack by whistling the ball he was returning to pitcher Sandy Koufax within a hair's breadth of the ear of Marichal in the batter's box. Finally, this is an uplifting story of the men's eventual reconciliation and friendship. VERDICT Baseball history well told; for all baseball collections.—JB
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762787128
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/18/2014
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 127,100
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

John Rosengren is the award-winning author of seven previous books. His most recent is the definitive biography of Hank Greenberg, Hall of Fame baseball player and America's first Jewish superstar--Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes. Prior to that, he wrote Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid: The Year That Changed Baseball Forever, which chronicles the 1973 MLB season. It was a finalist for the 2008 CASEY Award, given to the best baseball book of the year, and received honorable mention for Outstanding Book of 2008 from the American Society of Journalists & Authors. His other books include Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win and a collaboration with Esera Tuaolo, Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL. A freelance journalist since 1981, Rosengren's articles have appeared in more than 100 publications, including AARP, Cycle Sport, The History Channel Magazine, Men's Journal, MLB Insiders Club Magazine, Penthouse, Reader's Digest, Runner's World, Sports Illustrated, Tennis, and Utne Reader. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, the American Society of Journalists & Authors and president of the ASJA's Upper Midwest chapter. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the University of Minnesota's journalism school. Rosengren lives with his wife and their two children in Minneapolis.
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