March 29, 2010

Tonight's Episode: Dominican Dandy or If Baseball Was Played With A Tennis Ball, I Would Have Been Better Than Sandy Koufax

A little while ago I asked "without consulting Wikipedia name the pitcher with the most wins in the 1960'?"

Chances are your mind probably jumped to one of two answers. Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson. The correct answer is the subject of this post: Juan Marichal.

1970 Topps #210 Juan Marichal


Juan had 191 wins over the 60's and he never won a Cy Young award. It's got to be one of the greatest travesties in modern baseball history. Heck, during the 60's when the Cy Young award voters could only vote for one pitcher [rather than the top three as they do today] there would be years when Juan wouldn't even get any votes. Do I even need to mention that he won 25+ games twice in his career.

1974 Topps #330 Juan Marichal

He kept that "high kick" in this pitching motion throughout his entire career.

1972 Topps #568 Juan Marichal In Action

What you consider the greatest baseball game ever played says a lot about the things you love about the game. I'm personally a pitching man and so I love a tight low scoring game.

I never really got into the home run chases of McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds and now that we all know the truth behind them I'm glad I was spared that disappointment. It's like the episode of the Simpsons called "Brother's Little Helper" [that's episode AABF22 for those of you scoring at home] in which Major League Baseball is spying on Springfield and at the end Mark McGwire asks "do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me hit some dingers?" The angry mob, previously hungry for answers, gets distracted and begins to chant "Dingers, Dingers, Dingers." That's not me. I'm a pitching kind of guy.

I always wanted to be a pitcher in Little League. All off-season I would practice my delivery against the side a huge brick building near the home I grew up in. The ball of choice was a tennis ball to not attract the attention to the janitors of the building that would sometimes shew me away from practicing. If baseball was played with a tennis ball, I would have been better than Sandy Koufax. I had taken some chalk and made marks for the strike zone and I could hit it every time. I started working on throwing some different pitches other than fastball [although I stayed away from the curve ball as I was supposedly doing damage to my arm throwing it so young.] But when it came to the pitchers tryouts and a real baseball I just wasn't the same. I was Chien-Ming Wang of 2009 rather than 2006.

And so we come to what I view is the greatest baseball game ever played. You know maybe a better way to say it is "the greatest baseball game ever pitched." It happened July 2, 1963. It was a Tuesday in San Francisco. The Giants were playing the Milwaukee Braves and the game was a hot ticket because of the pitching match up: Warren Spahn vs. Juan Marichal. The fans wouldn't be disappointed. The two giants battled through nine innings of scoreless baseball and then decided they would add seven more innings for good measure. Both pitchers were still going strong into the 16th inning! The game was so good it took possibly the greatest player ever to put it to rest. Willie Mays hit a home run off Spahn in the bottom of the 16th giving Marichal the 1-0 win.

Perhaps most amazingly, the entire game was played in only 4 hours, 10 minutes.

4 comments:

Carl Crawford Cards said...

What can you say? Dude was the man.

night owl said...

I knew the answer was Marichal.

That said, I wouldn't call Marichal not winning a Cy Young Award a "travesty." The fact that only one Cy Young winner was named in the first half of the '60s no doubt hurt his cause. But look at the guys who won Cys during the '60s. They were amazing and the stats were CRAZY.

The only non-amazing NL year was 1967 when Marichal's teammate McCormick won. Marichal had a bit of a down year that season.

gcrl said...

i would have guessed gibson or drysdale, just because koufax didn't pitch after 66. i'm not as smart as mr. owl.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I heard Marichal talking about that long game on TV recently.