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Juan Marichal is a former right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the San Francisco Giants for most of his career. Marichal was known for his high leg kick, pinpoint control and intimidation tactics, which included aiming pitches directly at the opposing batters' helmets. Marichal also played for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers for the final two seasons of his career. Although he won more games than any other pitcher during the 1960s, he appeared in only one World Series game and he was often overshadowed by Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson in post-season awards. Marichal was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.
Marichal's delivery was renowned for one of the fullest windups in modern baseball, with a high kick of his left leg that went nearly vertical (even more so than Warren Spahn's delivery). Marichal maintained this delivery his entire career, and photographs taken near his retirement show the vertical kick only slightly diminished. The windup was the key to his delivery in that he was consistently able to conceal the type of pitch until it was on its way.
Marichal entered the major leagues on July 19, 1960 with the San Francisco Giants as the second native pitcher to come from the Dominican Republic. He made an immediate impression: in his debut, on July 19, 1960 against the Philadelphia Phillies, he took a no hitter into the eighth inning only to surrender a two-out single to Clay Dalrymple. He ended up with a one-hit shutout, walking one and striking out 12. He improved his victory totals to 13 and 18 over the following two seasons, respectively, before finally cracking the 20-victory plateau in 1963, when he went 25–8 with 248 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA. Marichal enjoyed similar success through the 1969 season, posting more than 20 victories in every season except 1967, and never posting an ERA higher than 2.76. He led the league in victories in 1963 and 1968 when he won 26 games. He and Sandy Koufax were the only two Major League pitchers in the post-war era (1946–present) to have more than one season of 25 or more wins. Each pitcher had three such seasons in their careers.
Marichal won more games during the decade of the 1960s (191) than any other major league pitcher, but did not receive any votes for the Cy Young Award until 1970. Marichal also exhibited exceptional control. He had 2,303 strikeouts with only 709 walks, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.25 to 1.
One regular-season game in Marichal's career deserves mention, involving him and Milwaukee Braves' Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in a night contest played July 2, 1963. The two great pitchers matched scoreless innings until Giants outfielder Willie Mays homered off Spahn to win the game 1–0 — in the 16th inning. Both Spahn and Marichal tossed complete games (in a 16 inning extra inning game), something that almost certainly will never happen again in the big leagues. Marichal allowed eight hits in the 16 innings, striking out 10, and saddling eventual career home run king Hank Aaron with an 0-for-6 mark. Spahn permitted nine hits in 15 and one-third innings, walking just one.
Marichal was involved in an infamous brawl between the Giants and Dodgers cause by his wild pitches at many Dodger batters. The incident left Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro bleeding from repeated attacks from Marichal after he took exception to him throwing at the Dodger batters.
After the 1973 season, the Giants sold Marichal to the Boston Red Sox. He had a fairly solid 1974, going 5–1 in 11 starts, but was released after the season.
Ironically, he then signed with the Dodgers as a free agent. Dodger fans had never forgiven Marichal for his attack on Roseboro 10 years earlier, and it took a personal appeal from Roseboro to calm them down. However, Marichal's 1975 didn't last long; he was lit up for nine runs, 11 hits and a 13.50 ERA in only two starts before retiring. He finished his career with 243 victories, 142 losses, 244 complete games, 2,303 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA over 3,507 innings pitched.
Marichal pitched a no-hitter on June 15, 1963, and was named to nine All-Star teams.
Marichal was passed over for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame during his first four years of eligibility, by all accounts because the Baseball Writers Association of America voters still held his attack on Roseboro against him. However, after a personal appeal by Roseboro, Marichal was elected in 1983, and thanked Roseboro in his induction speech.
The Giants honored him by commemorating a statue of him in his pitching motion and by retiring his number 27 jersey. Marichal was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on July 20, 2003 in pregame on field ceremony at Pac Bell Park.