In a decade that featured such legendary hurlers as Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and other Hall of Famers, no pitcher won more games than Juan Marichal in the 1960s. His unique, high-kick pitching style was imitated by kids from New York to San Francisco to Santo Domingo, and it is immortalized in a bronze statue outside of the Giants’ current ballpark. Marichal was the first Dominican-born player to play in an All-Star Game and the first elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he won more games than any of his countrymen. And while Dominican and other Latino players have come to dominate many aspects of baseball in recent years, Marichal was a trailblazer in his day, entering the league at a time when Latin American players were routinely discriminated against, underpaid, and presented with numerous obstacles on their journey to the big leagues.
In Juan Marichal, Marichal tells the story of his rise from living on a rural farm as a young boy in the Dominican Republic to his status as one of the great pitchers of all time. Along the way, he was enlisted by the son of the country’s dictator to play for the national team, was threatened at gunpoint to throw a game during a tournament in Mexico, fought homesickness as a minor leaguer in rural Indiana, and went head-to-head with some of the greatest pitchers and hitters the game has ever seen.For the first time, Marichal gives his perspective on life as a Latino ballplayer in the 1960s, describes the highs and lows of a 16-year major league career, and explores what the recent influx of Dominicans in the majors has meant to baseball and to his home country. He offers reflections on lingering stereotypes, the impact of steroids, and the general state of the game in the 21st century.