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The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal And John Roseboro Turned Baseball's Ugliest Brawl Into A Story Of Forgiveness And Redemption Hardcover – February 18, 2014

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The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal And John Roseboro Turned Baseball's Ugliest Brawl Into A Story Of Forgiveness And Redemption + 1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever + Jackie and Campy: The Untold Story of Their Rocky Relationship and the Breaking of Baseball’s Color Line
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press (February 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762787120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762787128
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“When I heard the news that two baseball idols, admired by thousands of fans, gave the example of forgiving a past incident with a simple handshake, it gave me great satisfaction. John Rosengren’s excellent account of the story made me appreciate their act of kindness even more.”
     —Tony Pérez, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
“John Rosengren has spun a masterpiece with the skill of Juan Marichal’s pitching and John Roseboro’s catching.”
     —Jim Kaplan, author of The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn,and the Pitching Duel of the Century

“John Rosengren does a terrific job illuminating the people and times behind one of the ugliest incidents in baseball history. The friendship and forgiveness between Juan Marichal and John Roseboro is a powerful story well told.”
     —Tom Verducci, senior writer for Sports Illustrated

“This is a story about passion and pride. It’s a story about two men who came from very different backgrounds but shared a common bond. It is also a story about forgiveness with a theme that shows it’s never too late to make amends. John Rosengren extraordinarily depicts how two men long since retired taught the world a valuable lesson—that it is okay to forgive.”
     —Andre Dawson, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame

“With the perspective of a sociologist and narrative mastery of a deft storyteller, John Rosengren tells the intertwined stories of two men on a collision course seemingly since they were born. Rosengren builds to the bloody Sunday that shocked the baseball world, and then, in its haunting aftermath, tells how the two principals eventually faced down their guilt to forgive each other. This is fascinating reading on multiple levels—as baseball story, as case study in American socio-cultural history, and as subtle commentary on the inherent frailty, occasional ugliness, and ultimate grace of the human condition.”
     —Josh Pahigian, author of several baseball books, including The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip and 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out
“In an explosive decade, against the backdrop of baseball’s fiercest rivalry, amid the pressure of a pennant race, Juan Marichal and John Roseboro forged a moment that stood still forever—The Fight of Their Lives. John Rosengren tells how it improbably led from hostility via regret and guilt to healing and finally love. An incredible odyssey, beautifully told.”
       —Curt Smith, author of Voices of The Game and The Voice: Mel Allen’s Untold Story

“Author John Rosengren did baseball, Marichal and Roseboro a great service by re-opening this horrific episode and shedding light on the entire story. He presents us almost a fairy tale—two good people brought together in a significant conflict which got resolved over the years and everyone lived happily ever after…. This is a beautiful story of forgiveness, told factually, yet sympathetically, with a very emotional ending.”
     —Spitball magazine

About the Author

John Rosengren is the award-winning author of seven previous books. His most recent is the definitive biography of Hank Greenberg, Hall of Fame baseball player and America’s first Jewish superstar--Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes. Prior to that, he wrote Hammerin’ Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid: The Year That Changed Baseball Forever, which chronicles the 1973 MLB season. It was a finalist for the 2008 CASEY Award, given to the best baseball book of the year, and received honorable mention for Outstanding Book of 2008 from the American Society of Journalists & Authors. His other books include Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win and a collaboration with Esera Tuaolo, Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL. A freelance journalist since 1981, Rosengren’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications, including AARP, Cycle Sport, The History Channel Magazine, Men’s Journal, MLB Insiders Club Magazine, Penthouse, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, Tennis, and Utne Reader. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, the American Society of Journalists & Authors and president of the ASJA’s Upper Midwest chapter. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the University of Minnesota’s journalism school. Rosengren lives with his wife and their two children in Minneapolis.

More About the Author

John Rosengren is an award-winning author of eight books. A freelance writer since 1981, he has written articles for more than 100 publications ranging from Reader's Digest to Sports Illustrated. He's a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Biographers International Organization, and the Society for American Baseball Research. He earned his master's degree in creative writing at Boston University, where he studied with Saul Bellow and Derek Walcott. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and their two children.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Shows you who these athletes really are as persons.
Louie Lyon
He has sourced the book well; about 20 percent of the books 277 pages are either the index, bibliography or sources.
Kenneth Heard
Rosengren also seamlessly weaves this story into the historical and social context of the time.
Harvey L. Kaminski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
We've all been there: said something we shouldn't have said or done something we wish we could take back, but no matter how much we try to move on for some people what was done will always be a defining moment of how they see us. This is true in all areas of our lives, but the great thing is we don't have to live in that moment. We can choose to move forward.

That is exactly what baseball players Juan Marichal and John Roseboro realized, and thanks to the book THE FIGHT OF THEIR LIVES author John Rosengren shows us how in spite of troubles for them both they were able to find some peace and some healing.

Now I have to admit that I had honestly not heard of these two guys before. Sports not being my favorite past-time, I learned about them for the first time through this book. That, I believe, was a good thing, because I had no preconceived ideas about the incident that seemed to go down in infamy. What I did learn from Rosengren's book, however, was to look at the two men not just because of that moment but their lives as a whole.

The author does a great job in showing the reader who they were before the fight and how their lives were forever changed because of those moments on the field in 1965. What it also does is show us how through forgiveness and the ability to not be defined by that one incident both men were able to not just better understand each other but themselves as well.

THE FIGHT OF THEIR LIVES also reminds us that not everyone is so quick to move forward. The book quotes Phil Pepe of the New York World-Telgram and Sun who wrote this about Marichal and how deep the reverberations of his actions could reach: "Juan is a decent and sensitive man, who must know by now that he performed a dastardly act.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Phil Bolsta on March 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was impressed by the depth and scope of John Rosengren's research into this incident and the lives of Roseboro and Marichal. I am a huge baseball fan and was collecting baseball cards back in 1965 (when my beloved Twins met the Dodgers and Roseboro, who later became a Twin, in the World Series) so I remember this incident well. What I did not know was who these two men were as human beings, and that is the part of the book I found most fascinating. Rosengren does a very nice job of providing insights into each man's character and personal life. I now feel like I have a good understanding of both why this incident happened and how it affected both men (I had always wondered about that!). I had not realized that Roseboro and Marichal had become friends, which I enjoyed reading about. This is not a perfect book, but it is a solid study of what happened and why. I am very glad I read it!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
August 22, 1965 is a day that has lived in disturbing infamy in the history of Major League Baseball. That was the day San Francisco Giant… future Hall Of Famer Juan Marichal… lifted his bat over his head… and landed a crashing blow… to the head of Los Angeles Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro… in the middle of the game. As a baseball loving child growing up in Los Angeles… I was sitting on the floor in front of the TV… and watched the insanity play out… right before my very eyes.

This book does a fine job of not only laying out what happened on that fateful day… but what unique roads… both Johnny and Juan traveled leading up to it… and then the author… dutifully follows the diverted paths of each man… in the aftermath. And perhaps with the finality… of justice… that can only be delivered… in the completion of a poem… how peace… or what can only be defined as an attempt to discover peace… reunites these two adversaries’.

As I started reading this book… much of what the author wrote seemed very familiar to me… and not just the facts on their own. And the reason I found was based on the following: Out of 277 pages… over 60 pages are sources… bibliographies… and index. In reviewing these pages I found that I had read many of the books he quoted. As a reader… the author’s due diligence made me feel even better about the book. As mentioned… even though I had read many of those books… it impressed me how he so cohesively mixed the two life stories into such a readable sequence for both men… and masterfully… led it like rivers flowing into the same ocean… at the conclusion.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Heard on April 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
On August 22, 1965, baseball had one of its more ugly moments in the sport's history when Giants' pitcher Juan Marichal struck Dodgers' catcher Johnny Roseboro on the head with his bat. Marichal contested Dodgers' Roseboro's toss back to Sandy Koufax that buzzed Marichal's ear and Roseboro responded with cursing.

It was 10 seconds that Marichal later said he wished he could get back and do over. It set baseball back and it damaged the reputation Dominicans were trying to build in baseball.

It seemed like a heated moment, but John Rosengren goes much deeper than the instance, putting into context several things that were going on at the time. Marichal was worried about political unrest in his home country, Roseboro had marital issues. The Dodgers and Giants were bitter rivals and were embroiled in a heated pennant race in 1965. The two teams had squared off earlier in the season and were within a game and a half of each other when that four-game series began in late August. A few weeks earlier, the Watts riots in Los Angeles began, placing tensions even higher.

Rosengren weaves the events of the time and the two players' lives in a great historical look at the fight and how it affected the lives of the players. He has sourced the book well; about 20 percent of the books 277 pages are either the index, bibliography or sources.

He took the event even further and followed the two well after the fight. He showed how Marichal, a deeply religious man, needed forgiveness to continue, and how his apology to Roseboro helped get Marichal in the Hall of Fame.

Rosengren's book about Hank Greenberg was a great read. He continues his method of providing good details, nuggets of information, in-depth context and great storytelling in this book as well.
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