AUGUST 9, 1965
After throwing a one-hitter in his 1960 major league debut, with the San Francisco Giants, Juan Marichal went on to become the winningest pitcher of the decade. His 191 wins in the '60s were 27 more than St. Louis Cardinal Bob Gibson's, 33 more than Los Angeles Dodger Don Drysdale's and 54 more than Dodger Sandy Koufax's. That holy trinity accumulated five Cy Young Awards in that period, but Marichal, a Dominican Republic native, would never get one in a 16-year career in which he had a 243-142 record, a 2.89 ERA, 2,303 strikeouts and nine All-Star Game selections. He won more than 20 games six years out of seven during the '60s, including three seasons of 25 or more victories.
But Marichal is perhaps best known for his blood feud with the Dodgers, against whom he won 21 of 25 career decisions at home, and an event in which some blood spilled. Less than two weeks after making his only SI cover appearance (above), Marichal, at bat, got into an argument with L.A. catcher John Roseboro that turned nasty. Marichal hit Roseboro over the head with his bat, opening a two-inch gash. Marichal was fined a then-record $1,750 and suspended for nine days. "I did good things for the game, but wish I could take back that one incident," he says. "I regret it."
Roseboro forgave Marichal, but it was harder for Dodgers fans to forgive him, though Marichal played for L.A. in 1975, his last big league season. After his career ended, at age 37, Marichal split time between San Francisco and his banana and rice farm in the Dominican Republic. In '83 he became the first Latin player to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the annual election and was hired as the director of Latin American scouting for the Oakland A's, a position he held for 12 years. He helped sign Tony Batista, Felix Jose and Luis Polonia among others.
Next, politics came calling. Last fall incoming Dominican president Leonel Fern�ndez offered Marichal a cabinet position: minister of sports, physical education and recreation. In that role the 59-year-old Marichal primarily oversees his country's athletic budget and the building of parks, but he also facilitates relationships between Dominican baseball talent and major league scouts. The SI cover story on Marichal heralded the 48 Latins playing in the majors 32 years ago as "the new conquistadores." This season there were 57 Dominicans alone on Opening Day rosters. "It was good to be among the first," says Marichal, who is still revered in his homeland. "Now it seems every club has a Latino star."