Synopses & Reviews
One Sunday afternoon in August 1965, on a day when baseballs most storied rivals, the Giants and Dodgers, vied for the pennant, the national pastime reflected the tensions in society and nearly sullied two men forever. Juan Marichal, a Dominican anxious about his familys safety during the civil war back home, and John Roseboro, a black man living in South Central L.A. shaken by the Watts riots a week earlier, attacked one another in a moment immortalized by an iconic photo: Marichals bat poised to strike Roseboros head.
The violent moment-uncharacteristic of either man-linked the two forever and haunted both. Much like John Feinsteins The Punch, The Fight of Their Lives examines the incident in its context and aftermath, only in this story the two men eventually reconcile and become friends, making theirs an unforgettable tale of forgiveness and redemption.
The book also explores American culture and the racial prejudices against blacks and Latinos both men faced and surmounted. As two of the premiere ballplayers of their generation, they realized they had more to unite them than keep them apart.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“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.”
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.
About the Author
John Rosengren is the award-winning author of eight books, including Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes and Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win. His articles have appeared in Men's Journal, Reader's Digest, Runner's World, Sports Illustrated and Utne Reader, among other publications. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, he lives in Minneapolis.