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Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph: meet Juan Marichal and John Roseboro

Juan Marichal, John Roseboro, and Sandy Koufax

Juan Marichal holding bat, John Roseboro attacked, and Sandy Koufax closes in.

Bettmann Archive

Last night the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns. No one is gonna be talking nearly as much about the outcome today, however, as they are the carnage.

Specifically, the carnage that led to Browns defensive end Myles Garrett getting ejected from the game after ripping Steelers’ quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet off, swinging it at him and connecting with Rudolph’s skull as the game came to a close. Things were already chippy as all get-out, but that obviously led to a brawl which will lead to a ton of suspensions, including a possibly record-breaking one for Garrett. For all your analysis on that, check out PFT, obviously.

The incident will dominate the sports shows today because malicious attempts to injure another player with a piece of equipment are pretty rare in professional sports. There was at least one incident in baseball history, however, that was analogous to what went down in Cleveland last night.

It took place on August 22, 1965 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco during a Dodgers-Giants game. That’s when Giants ace Juan Marichal, playing the role of Garrett, took a baseball bat to the head of Dodgers catcher John Roseboro, standing in for Rudolph.

The Dodgers and Giants are rivals, of course, and in 1965 the two teams were in a pitched battle for the N.L. pennant, with the Dodgers leading San Francisco by a game and a half as the day began.

Pitchers in 1965 were a bit more aggressive about claiming the inside part of the plate than they are today, and on that day, everyone seemed cranky. Marichal knocked Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills down with some chin music in the top of the second for, it appears, committing the terrible transgression of bunting for a single in his first at bat of the game. In response Koufax fired a fastball over Willie Mays’ head, sending the ball to the backstop. So everyone was even, yeah?

Nah. Marichal responded in the top of third with an inside fastball that sent Dodgers first baseman Ron Fairly sprawling to the dirt. At that point home plate umpire Shag Crawford issued a warning, indicating that that the next close pitch from either team would result in an ejection. Walter Alston’s Dodgers, though, were a clever bunch. Sure, maybe a close pitch was going to get an ace ejected in a pennant race, but there are other ways to buzz someone’s tower, right?

Pitchers batted in every game back then, of course, and Marichal came to bat in the bottom of the third. Koufax didn’t throw at him, though. Instead, Roseboro, catching for L.A., threw the ball back to Koufax in such a way as to have it sail close to Marichal’s head as he stood in the batter’s box. He later admitted in his autobiography that it was no accident, he was trying to intimidate Marichal.

Marichal flipped out, clubbing Roseboro with his bat, after which all hell broke loose (all photos, and the original caption from 1965, are from Getty Images):

Juan Marichal, John Roseboro, and Sandy Koufax

Juan Marichal holding bat, John Roseboro attacked, and Sandy Koufax closes in.

Bettmann Archive

Juan Marichal in Fight with Catcher Johnny Roseboro

(Original Caption) Los Angeles Dodgers’ catcher John Roseboro suffered a cut on top of his head in 3rd inning during a bat swinging fight with San Francisco Giant pitcher Juan Marichal. It was believed that Marichal got angry when Roseboro fired the ball to close to his head while returning it to pitcher Sandy Koufax. Roseboro throws a punch at Marichal while latter swings bat and Koufax comes in to try and break it up.

Bettmann Archive

Baseball Coach and Players Try to Break up Fight

(Original Caption) Los Angeles Dodgers’ catcher John Roseboro suffered a cut on top of his head in 3rd inning during a bat swinging fight with San Francisco Giant pitcher Juan Marichal. It was believed that Marichal got angry when Roseboro fired the ball to close to his head while returning it to pitcher Sandy Koufax. On deck batter Giant Tito Fuentes (partially out of picture- right) pulls Roseboro away while Marichal wields bat at Koufax while umpire Shag Crawford and Giant coach Charlie Fox try to break it up.

Bettmann Archive

Umpire Holding Back Player Charging Pitcher with a Bat

(Original Caption) Los Angeles Dodger catcher John Roseboro suffered a cut on top of his head in 3rd inning 8/22 during a bat swinging fight with San Francisco Giant pitcher Juan Marichal. It was believed Marichal got angry when Roseboro fired the ball close to his head while returning it to pitcher Sandy Koufax. Umpire Shag Crawford wrestles with Marichal while Dodgers Jim Gilliam (19) and Kaufax come in. Rear is Giants coach Charlie Fox. Marichal falls to the ground on top of Shag Crawford while Giants Orlando Cepeda joins the melee.

Bettmann Archive

Brawl Between Giants and Dodgers

(Original Caption) 8/22/1965-San Francisco, CA: Dodger catcher John Roseboro suffered a cut on top of his head during a bat swing fight with San Francisco Giant pitcher Juan Marichal. It is believed Marichal got angry when Roseboro fired the ball close to his head when returning it to pitcher Sandy Koufax. Umpire Shag Crawford is shown here wrestling with Marichal as Dodgers Jim Gilliam (#19) and Sandy Koufax join in. In the rear is Giants’ coach Charlie Fox.

Bettmann Archive

Dodgers and Giants Brawling on the Field

(Original Caption) San Francisco: Both benches poured onto the field here in 3rd inning in game between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants when pitcher Juan Marichal and catcher John Roseboro tangled while the Giant pitcher was at bat. Identifiable L-R: Dodger Jim Gilliam (19); John Roseboro (with chest protector); Giants Orlando Cepeda (30); Cap Peterson (17); Warren Spahn; and Mgr. Herman Franks (3).

Bettmann Archive

Willie Mays was credited with keeping the brawl from getting worse. Roseboro had military and martial arts training and, as you can see in the second photo, he was not slowed by his head injury -- an injury that would require 14 stitches -- from trying to take Marichal apart. Mays was the one who ultimately pulled Roseboro away and out of the fracas. He even held a towel to Roseboro’s head which by then had begun to bleed profusely. The fight eventually ended, with several players sustaining injuries due to kicks and accidental spikings of hands and legs and stuff.

The incident delayed the game for 14 minutes but the fallout beyond that was pretty tame compared to today’s standards. Marichal got an eight day suspension which, because of scheduled doubleheaders, caused him to miss ten games. He was also fined $1,750, which is around $15,000 today. Roseboro only missed two games due to his injury. The Dodgers would lose this game thanks to a big homer from Mays off of Koufax, but the Dodgers would go on to win the pennant and defeat the Minnesota Twins in the World Series.

There was additional fallout: Roseboro sued Marichal for $110,000 in damages. They’d eventually settle, with Roseboro receiving $7,500 from Marichal.

But there was no lingering bad blood. In interviews after the incident both players admitted that there was much more on their minds in 1965 that might’ve contributed to their aggression on that day. There was the rivalry, of course, and the pennant race. But Marichal had been much more personally distracted by a civil war in his native Dominican Republic that raged in 1965 and would not end until September. Roseboro had been, understandably, affected by the Watts Riots in Los Angeles which had taken place just over a week before this game. When you feel helpless about situation A, you often channel your feelings into situation B and both men said that something like that was probably simmering.

Marichal would play for the Dodgers for two games in 1975, the final year of his career. Roseboro had already retired, but Marichal’s cup of coffee with L.A. allowed them to meet up at a Dodgers old-timers game in 1982. There they posed for this photo:

Los Angeles Dodgers

LOS ANGELES - 1982: (L to R) Former catcher John Roseboro and pitcher Juan Marichal of the Los Angeles Dodgers pose for a portrait prior to a game in 1982 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Roseboro was injured during an altercation with Marichal, with the San Francisco Giants at the time, in a game on August 8, 1865 when Marichal hit Roseboro with a bat. Marichal finished his career with the Dodgers in 1975. (Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Diamond Images/Getty Images

“There were no hard feelings on my part,” Roseboro told the L.A. Times in 1990. Roseboro died in 2002. Marichal was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.

Let’s check in with Garrett and Ruldolph in 37 years to see how they’re doing.

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