Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown

Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown

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by Juan Marichal
     
 

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From 1960 to 1969—the decade of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and numerous other all-time greats—no pitcher in major league baseball won more games than Juan Marichal. The nine-time all-star was also a groundbreaking presence, debuting at a time when only a handful of Latin-born players were playing big league ball. Coming from humble origins

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Overview

From 1960 to 1969—the decade of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and numerous other all-time greats—no pitcher in major league baseball won more games than Juan Marichal. The nine-time all-star was also a groundbreaking presence, debuting at a time when only a handful of Latin-born players were playing big league ball. Coming from humble origins in the Dominican Republic, Marichal went on to become a dominant pitcher in his time, an icon in two countries, and an international ambassador for the game of baseball.
 
In this first full account of his life and career, Marichal tells of his experiences growing up on a Dominican farm, where he had to fashion his own baseball equipment—balls made out of golf balls wrapped in cloth, bats from the branches of the wassama tree, and gloves cut from canvas tarps. Despite these limited tools, the young Juan could never get enough of his beloved game, and he vowed to his mother that she would one day hear his name on radio.
 
Marichal’s journey to stardom took him down some unexpected roads. As a teenager, he was enlisted by the family of the nation’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo, to play baseball for the Dominican Air Force. Although scouting by the majors was still in its infancy in Latin America, Marichal soon caught the attention of representatives from the San Francisco Giants, who brought him to the United States in 1958. Adjusting to a foreign culture and language while playing in towns from Massachusetts to Indiana to Washington was a challenge for the young hurler, but the greatest surprise and adjustment was the racial intolerance he encountered in his new home during the early 1960s.
 
Despite these obstacles, Marichal quickly established himself as an elite pitcher, throwing a complete-game one-hitter in his first major league game in 1960—242 more victories and 243 more complete games were to come.
 
More than 50 years after that auspicious debut, Marichal reflects on the bonds he established with teammates like Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, and childhood friend Felipe Alou, as well as his battles and friendships with opposing hitters, from Roberto Clemente to Pete Rose and many more. He recounts the highs and lows of a 16-year career—from an epic 16-inning duel with fellow Hall of Famer Warren Spahn to his regrettable altercation with Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro. He also shares the story behind how he came to develop the distinctive, high-kick pitching delivery that became his trademark.
 
Today Marichal is still close to the game, and he opines on the state of baseball in the 21st century, including the treatment and use of pitchers, the impact of performance-enhancing drugs, and the many Dominican-born players who have followed in his footsteps over the last half century. Self-described as a happy person, Marichal’s love of life, baseball, and his two home countries shine through in this intimate memoir.

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Editorial Reviews

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Booklist

Major league baseball in the 1960s was dominated by pitching. Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Bob Gibson may be the names that come to mind most easily, but Hall of Famer Juan Marichal also belongs on that list. No pitcher won more games in the decade than Marichal did for the San Francisco Giants. He was one of the first big leaguers from the Dominican Republic, and in his life after baseball he has been instrumental in his country becoming a hotbed for major league prospects and players. In this as-told-to autobiography, Marichal recounts his youth in the rural countryside, his experience playing for the Dominican Air Force team, and his brief journey through the minor leagues to the Giants. There are dozens of anecdotes about his major-league years and the rivalries he had with the other great pitchers of the era. He also discusses his post-baseball life as a scout and later as a key government promoter of the Dominican’s sports program. Overall, an intelligent sports memoir that will appeal particularly to fans who remember Marichal on the mound.

Library Journal
To look at the MLB career (1960–75) of Hall of Fame pitcher Marichal is to look at another era. Over the last decade, the most games a major league pitcher has completed in a season has been nine; Marichal had five seasons in which he completed over 20 games, peaking at 30 complete games in 1968. From 1990 to 2010, the most shutouts hurled in a season by a major league pitcher was five; Marichal had years with eight and ten shutouts. Playing before free agency, he spent 14 of his 16 big league seasons with the San Francisco Giants, and here he stays loyal to them. VERDICT If Marichal can be seen as a throwback, so can his autobiography, written with sportswriter Freedman (Going Yard: The Everything Home Run Book). After a short preface to each chapter by Freedman, we have Marichal in his own words—conversational, staying clear of the current focus on sex, drugs, and dishing on teammates and opposing players; his perspective is refreshing, but because of it and the simplicity of the narrative, this book may be most appropriate for a young adult audience. Not a home run, but a solid hit.—Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780760340592
Publisher:
MVP Books
Publication date:
10/07/2011
Edition description:
First
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
745,950
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

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Booklist

Major league baseball in the 1960s was dominated by pitching. Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Bob Gibson may be the names that come to mind most easily, but Hall of Famer Juan Marichal also belongs on that list. No pitcher won more games in the decade than Marichal did for the San Francisco Giants. He was one of the first big leaguers from the Dominican Republic, and in his life after baseball he has been instrumental in his country becoming a hotbed for major league prospects and players. In this as-told-to autobiography, Marichal recounts his youth in the rural countryside, his experience playing for the Dominican Air Force team, and his brief journey through the minor leagues to the Giants. There are dozens of anecdotes about his major-league years and the rivalries he had with the other great pitchers of the era. He also discusses his post-baseball life as a scout and later as a key government promoter of the Dominican’s sports program. Overall, an intelligent sports memoir that will appeal particularly to fans who remember Marichal on the mound.

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