OBSERVATIONS: The best pitcher’s duel ever (Marichal-Spahn)

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave trying to avoid attacking two boxes of Esther Price cashew bark candy that Nadine hid in a corner of the refrigerator. . .but didn’t hide good enough.

—The most famous pitching duel in major league history was enacted on July 2, 1963 in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. And it involved two future Hall of Fame pitchers at opposite ends of their careers.

It was 42-year-old Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn versus 25-year-old San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal.

Marichal threw 16 scoreless innings. Spahn threw 15 1/3 innings until he gave up a 16th-inning home run to. . .Willie Mays. Giants win, 1-0.

Marichal, who won 25 games that year, threw 227 pitches. Spahn, who won 23 games that year, threw 201 pitches. And four days later (four not five), Spahn pitched another complete game, a shutout against the Houston Colt .45s.

At one point late in the game, Giants manager Alvin Dark wanted to take Marichal out, but he pointed to the Milwaukee dugout and said, “I’m not going to come out of the game as long as that old man is pitching.”

After pitching the 16th, Marichal and Willie Mays walked off the field together and Marichal said, “Alvin Dark is mad at me. He’s not going t0 let me pitch any longer.”

Said Mays, “Don’t worry, I’m going to win this game for you.” And he did. . .the home run in the bottom of the 16th. It was no shock. Mays hit 18 career home runs off Spahn, the most he hit off any pitcher. And his first career home run was off Spahn when Mays was 1 for 26 to begin his career.

The other big-star Willie playing for the Giants, Willie McCovey, thought he ended the game in the bottom of the ninth with a home run, a ball umpire Chris Pelekoudas called foul.

“He didn’t call it foul right away,” said McCovey. “I hit it so high and so far he waited until it landed. . .which was in Oakland. He was the only person in the ballpark who thought it was foul.”

Marichal gave up only one extra base hit the entire game and that was to Spahn an excellent-hitting pitcher. Spahn doubled off the right field wall with two outs in the seventh, a foot too low to clear the wall for a home run.

Incredibly, seven future Hall of Famers played in that game — Marichal, Spahn, Mays, McC0vey, Orlando Cepeda, Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews.

—QUOTE: From Juan Marichal, who at one time was the father-in-law of former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo: “The only way to preserve a pitching arm is by throwing. That makes it stronger. There is no way to have a strong arm if you don’t throw enough.”

(Which is why and how he threw 227 pitches in one game and which is why and how Warren Spahn threw 201 pitches in one game and came back four days later to pitch a complete-game shutout.)

—As if Ohio State needed any extra incentive for its CFB semifinal visit, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney provided it. In the final coaches poll, Swinney placed the Buckeyes 11th on his ballot — behind his team, Alabama, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Georgia, Iowa State, Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day’s response: “We are going to beat their ass.”

And the talking heads on ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ spent a segment trashing the Buckeyes. Most vociferous was Rex Ryan, ESPN’s No. 2 Most Obnoxious Personality behind Stephen A. Smith.

Asked if the CFB committee got it right, Ryan said, “Absolutely not. Ohio State won six games total in the Big Ten. No offense to the Big Ten, but it ain’t the SEC. I’m sorry, but they are going to get waxed by Clemson, we know what’s gonna happen. This is not the same Ohio State team as last year.”

This one is must-see TV.

—Nobody wants to play Army (8-2) in the Independence Bowl. Several teams have said no, citing no time to prepare for Army’s triple-option offense.

Meanwhile, South Carolina will play Alabama-Birmingham Saturday in Tampa in the Gasparilla Bowl. South Carolina fired its coach late this season and is 2-and-8 and on a six-game losing streak.

With that mind, here’s an idea. Invite Vanderbilt (0-and-9) to play Kansas (0-and-9) in the Toilet Bowl in Flushing, N.Y.

—Baker Mayfield keeps gets better and better — and that’s at playing quarterback, not doing commercials.

And figure this one out. The Cleveland Browns are 10-and-4 but have been outscored this season, 374-368.

—While the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night, the planets Jupiter and Saturn appeared to converge in the sky, the first time to the naked eye since 1226.

Wasn’t 1226 the last time the Bengals beat the Steelers with Clement of Alexandria at quarterback and Francis of Assisi at wide receiver?

—Like the Energizer Bunny, the startling rumors just keep on coming involving the Cincinnati Reds. First it was that pitcher Sonny Gray is being discussed in trade talks. Then it was pitcher Luis Castillo. Then it was third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Then it was second baseman Mike Moustakas.

If you pass Great American Ball Park in the next few days, let me know if there is sign at the main entrance that says, “Entire Major League Franchise Up For Trade. Best Offer.”

4 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: The best pitcher’s duel ever (Marichal-Spahn)”

  1. Oh man – I just got the book couple days ago! The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn by Jim Kaplan. (from where I got info on Candlestick I just commented on in post about #24)

  2. Another great read, thanks Hal.
    I’ve been an avid Reds fan since the early 60’s. If they trade Castillo or Suarez I’m done. I’ll be a Cleveland whatever they’re going to be called fan.

  3. I Love to read Your stories I wish I could have seen half of what You have. I am 70 and will be 71 in March. I have seen a lot. I was lucky enough to have met Stan the Man in St Louis. After a game We went to We were outside the Stadium and We saw a one armed Man and was talking to Him. I said how I would Like to see Stan. He said well He will be coming out that door right there. In about 5 or 10 Minutes He walked out. He was such a nice man He stood for Pictures signed Our Programs. That was one of My Greatest moments in My Life. It is right up there with Meeting You. 🙂 My Dad was always a Red Bird Fan and He admired Stan because He was alway a Gentleman never argued with an Umpire. I would like to meet Pete Rose but I have heard but I don’t believe all of what I hear that He wasn’t to friendly I guess You would know. I have rambled on enough. Please keep the Stories coming I Love them !!! Merry Christmas to You and Your Family And Prayers and God Bless You My Friend !!!

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