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Thursday, August 29, 2002
Roseboro part of one of baseball's most violent plays
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher John Roseboro, hit over the head with a bat in one of the most violent incidents in Major League baseball history, died after a lengthy illness, a family spokeswoman said Aug. 19. He was 69.

Roseboro, who also played for Minnesota and Washington, died Aug. 16 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said publicist Carole Wade.

The cause of death was not specified. Wade said that Roseboro's reported medical problems recently included heart trouble, prostate cancer and strokes.

Los Angeles and San Francisco were in a tight pennant race in 1965 when Giants pitcher Juan Marichal hit Roseboro over the head twice with a bat at Candlestick Park.

The blows opened a 2-inch gash that sent blood flowing down Roseboro's face. The ensuing brawl lasted 14 minutes. Marichal was ejected.

The National League suspended Marichal for eight playing dates, fined him $1,750 and barred him from traveling to Los Angeles for the teams' final series.

Marichal claimed Roseboro returned a pitch close to his head while he was batting.

Roseboro sued Marichal for $110,000 in damages. The suit was settled for $7,500 in 1970 and 10 years later the men became friends.

"He was the nicest man to ever wear a Dodger uniform,'' former Los Angeles manager Tommy Lasorda said through a spokesman. "He played the game as it should be, with all the passion, dedication, and desire in his heart.''

Born in Ashland, Ohio, on May 13, 1933, Roseboro played for the Dodgers from 1957-67 and was a four-time All-Star on three world championship teams. He was the starting catcher in the 1959, 1963, 1965 and 1966 World Series.

A left-handed hitter, he had a lifetime batting average of .249 in 14 seasons with the Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Washington Senators. He was a member of the National League All-Star team in 1958, 1961 and 1962 and the American League All-Star team in 1969.

He ended his playing career with Washington in 1970 and went on to coach the Senators in 1971 and the then-California Angels from 1972-74. He was a Dodgers minor league batting instructor in 1977-78, and a minor league catching instructor in 1987.

On Aug. 22, 1965, the Dodgers were leading the Milwaukee Braves by a half game and the Giants by 1{. Marichal and the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax were the starters as San Francisco and Los Angeles wrapped up a four-game series.

Marichal claimed at the time that Roseboro had warned several Giants: "Tell Marichal to shut his big mouth, or he's going to get one behind his ear.''

After several Dodger batters were brushed back or sent sprawling, Marichal came to bat in the third. Roseboro returned a Koufax pitch and either nicked Marichal's ear or came close.

Marichal claimed he turned to Roseboro and asked, "Why do you do that?''

Roseboro came out of his crouch with a clenched fist.

"I thought he would hit me with his mask, so I hit him,'' Marichal told The Associated Press in a 1990 interview.

Marichal whacked Roseboro on the top and side of the head. The benches cleared.

San Francisco's Willie Mays eventually calmed both teams and went on to homer off Koufax to put the Giants ahead for good at 4-3. He circled the bases with Roseboro's blood on his shirt. The Dodgers went on to win the pennant by two games.

Marichal eventually ended his career in 1975 as a Dodger.

Roseboro is survived by his wife, Barbara Fouch Roseboro, with whom he owned a Beverly Hills public relations firm, and a daughter, Morgan.

Plans for a memorial service were pending.

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