SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – It was remembered as one of the greatest pitching duels of all time. A future Hall of Famer, 42-year-old Warren Spahn, took the mound for the Milwaukee Braves, facing the San Francisco Giants Juan Marichal at Candlestick Park.
The game on July 2, 1963 is the basis of a new book by Jim Kaplan titled “The Greatest Game Ever Pitcher: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn and the Pitching Duel of the Century.”
Marichal said that despite both pitchers having great seasons, he never thought it was going to be such a special day.
“When the game started, it was just another game. I always tried to give my best every time I took to the mound,” said Marichal. “It was special because I was pitching against one of the greatest.”
One of the greatest is correct. Spahn was in the midst of his 13th and final 20-win season and would end his career with 363 wins in all.
The 25-year-old Marichal was also just starting to blossom, having pitched a no-hitter less than three weeks before the duel. He would also end up in the Hall of Fame and 1963 was the first of his six seasons with 20 or more wins.
KCBS Interviews SF Giants Great Juan Marichal:
The amazing game was scoreless through the 9th.
“In the 9th inning, Manager Alvin Dark wanted to take me out. But my catcher, Ed Bailey, came up to me and said, don’t let him. Don’t let him take you out. Win or lose, this is a great game,” said Marichal. “So I went to Alvin and said, I feel strong, I feel good and let me stay in a few more innings.”
A few more innings ended up being 7, as the two pitchers continued the scoreless battle through 15 innings. Marichal said he was normally a fairly efficient pitcher, until that amazing day, when he would throw 227 pitches.
“I never did (that) before. On average when I threw nine innings, sometimes I finished games with 82 or 83 pitches. One time I think I finished a game with 78 pitches,” he said. “So when I threw 227 pitches, I was exhausted.”
Spahn also reached the 200 pitch mark, but his last one was a hanger to another Hall of Famer, Willie Mays, who launched a home run to left field in the bottom of the 16th.
What looked to be a great pitching duel between a crafty vet and young, rising star proved to be just that: a game to remember for the ages.
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