Juan Marichal, who played most of this career for the San Francisco Giants, often found himself overshadowed in the 1960s by Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. That’s because both of those pitchers had postseason success, while a poor Giants team meant Marichal only reached one World Series, a seven-game loss to the New York Yankees in 1962.
But Marichal won more games than any other pitcher in the 1960s. He led the league in wins in 1963 and 1968 and had more than 20 wins in six seasons. He also led the league twice in:
- Complete games
- Innings pitched
Additionally, he led the league one year in winning percentage. Even if he is not as well-known as his contemporaries he remains a favorite MLB pitcher.
Juan Marichal Early Life
Marichal was born Oct. 20, 1937, in the farming village of Laguna Verde in the Dominican Republic. He grew up on a farm that had no electricity. He was one of four children. His older brother, Gonzalo, taught him how to pitch, field and hit. He developed a love of the game.
Marichal was discovered by Ramfis Trujillo, son of the Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Once Trujillo saw him pitch, he immediately made him a member of the Aviación Dominicana, the country’s Air Force team.
In 1957, the Giants signed him to a contract. He played the 1957-58 season for the Escogido Leones of the Dominican League. Up until this point, he still threw sidearm. However, Andy Gilbert, a manager in the minors in Indiana, convinced him to start throwing overhand, which led to his famous delivery.
Major League Career
The right-hander began getting known for what many still remember him for today – a high leg kick and command of five pitches: slider, fastball, change, curve, and screwball. He also tended to intimidate batters with inside pitches. He knew what he was going, too, because he had pinpoint control.
On July 19, 1960, Marichal made his Major League debut, pitching a one-hit shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies. He went on to pitch three complete games in his first three starts. Marichal became a mainstay of the Giants starting rotation until 1973.
His career included many highlights. One of the best is from July 2, 1963, when Marichal pitching a 16-inning complete game to beat Warren Spahn, who was pitching for the Milwaukee Braves.
In 1968, he got involved in a fight with Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro that included hitting him over the head with a bat after the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher close to his head.
Marichal later played one year with the Boston Red Sox in 1974 and one year with the Dodgers in 1975. He retired from the game with 243 games, an ERA of 2.89, 244 complete games and 52 shutouts.
After his retirement, Marichal was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. He served as director of the Oakland A’s program in the Dominican Republic in the 1980s through the mid-1990s – a program that produced Miguel Tejada, among others.