When Juan Marichal hit Roseboro over the head with a bat in August 1965, Roseboro went down in history as the center of one of baseball's biggest brawls. Marichal claimed that Roseboro had ticked his ear with the ball (Marichal was at bat) while throwing it back to the pitcher.
Roseboro caught two of Sandy Koufax's no-hitters and ranks in the top 25 all-time in games caught. Not including his first and last seasons, the durable receiver caught more than 100 games every year but 1960. Helped by Los Angeles's high-strikeout pitching staff, he set ML records for putouts in 1959 and 1961. Roseboro led NL catchers six times in total chances per game (five straight seasons, 1958-62), four times in putouts, and twice in double plays, and also led AL catchers in double plays in 1969 as he contributed to the Twins' divisional title.
Adequate with the bat, the lefthanded batter hit as high as .287 in 1964 and hit as many as 18 HR in 1961, although he was never in double figures in HR after the Dodgers moved to Dodger Stadium. He won Game One of the 1963 World Series with a three-run homer off Whitey Ford and won Game Three of the 1965 WS with a two-run single off Camilio Pascual. Early in his career he had good speed for a catcher, stealing as many as 12 bases (in 15 attempts) in 1962 and averaging more than six triples a year in his first six full seasons (1958-63). (SFS)
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»September 1, 1958:
In San Francisco, the Giants sweep a doubleheader from the Dodgers (and five of six in the Labor Day series) by taking the 1st in an A.M.-P.M. doubleheader, 3–2. Mays is 5-for-5 with two doubles and a home run. The nitecap is a memorable four hour: 35 minute marathon. The Giants tie it in the 9th on Schmidt's homer, and the Dodgers go ahead, 5–4, in the 16th on Carl Furillo's RBI. Whitey Lockman's home run in to bottom of the 16th ties it, then a bunt single by Ray Jablonski is followed by another bunt by P Ruben Gomez. Errors by John Roseboro and Furillo follow allowing Jabo to score the winning run. Mays is 11-for-20 for the series, with four homers.
»October 2, 1963: In the World Series Opener, Sandy Koufax fans the first five batters he faces en route to a World Series record 15. John Roseboro's 3-run home run is the difference, as Los Angeles beats the Yankees 5–2 at New York.
»September 20, 1964: Jim Bunning, in relief, strikes out Johnny Roseboro in the 9th to preserve the Phils 3–2 win in Los Angeles. The win comes after two straight losses and leaves the 1st place Phils in front of the National League by six 1/2 games with 12 to play. When they return to Philley in the early morning, 2,000 fans including Mayor James Tate are on hand to greet the team.
»August 22, 1965: San Francisco's Juan Marichal, batting against LA's Sandy Koufax, complains that C John Roseboro's return throws are too close. He then turns and attacks Roseboro with his bat. A 14-minute brawl ensues before Koufax, Willie Mays, and other peacemakers can restore order. Roseboro suffers a considerable cut on the head. Marichal is suspended eight playing days and levied a National League-record $1,750 fine.
»April 9, 1969:
The Royals, who debuted with a 4–3 win over the Twins in 12 innings, travel further to win by the same score in 17 frames. It's a game for steals. With the Royals Ellie Rodriguez at bat, Bob Oliver tries to steal 2B. Twins C John Roseboro throws him out, but has to push Rodriguez's bat out of the way. After several conferences between the umpires, Oliver is sent back to 1B and Rodriguez is called out for interference. On the Twins side, with the score tied 2–2 in the 5th inning, and Roger Nelson pitching, Rod Carew steals home for the first time in his career. Billy Martin and Carew had worked on the play in spring training, where Carew had twice swiped home. Carew will be 6–6 on attempts before being caught at home.
»July 9, 1969:
With the Twins hosting Kansas City, the Royals Bob Oliver attempts to steal 2B with Ellie Rodriguez at bat. Catcher John Roseboro pushes Rodriguez's bat out of the way and his throw to 2B nails Oliver. After huddling eight minutes with his umpire crew, home plate ump John Rice declares Rodriguez out for interference and orders Oliver back to 1B, though (as author Rich Marazzi points out) the rule states that an out nullifies an interference call. The Royals win, 4–3. Killebrew accounts for all the Twins scoring with a homer.