August 20th, 2002

Roadkill

John Roseboro

John Roseboro passed away today at 69, after being battered by cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Roseboro was the catcher for the Dodgers when I was growing up, the man who caught Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in their primes, one of the key guys on my favorite team. He was an all star four times in his career and won a couple of gold gloves, but he was best known for having been attacked with a baseball bat by Juan Marichal. Marichal had brushed back a couple of Dodgers the inning before, so when he came up to bat Roseboro decided to get even by throwing the ball right past Marichal's ear as he returned the ball to Koufax. Marichal took serious offence and began whaling away on Roseboro with his bat. Roseboro wound up with a two inch gash on his head that required 14 stitches to close. Marichal got suspended for eight games.

John Roseboro John Roseboro

I read an article by Bill Plaschke of the LA TImes about Roseboro awhile back talking about his problems, and how all the old Dodgers, and even Marichal, had rallied around him. Roseboro and Marichal became friends later in life, and Marichal is certain that if it hadn't been for Roseboro publicly forgiving him, Marichal would never have gotten into the Hall of Fame.

I met John Roseboro at Vero Beach in 1989. He seemed like a nice man, and graciously autographed my Dodger baseball. It's a shame that most will remember him only for the brawl...