A 2014 CASEY Award finalist for the best baseball book of the year.
“For baseball fans of a certain age, it’s the ugliest thing they’ve ever seen in a game… Rosengren details not only the fight, but the role of race in 1965 America, how the two eventually made up, became friends and even signed photos of the fight together.”
—New York Post “must-read books”
Now in paperback!
One Sunday afternoon in August 1965, on a day when baseball’s most storied rivals, the Giants and Dodgers, vied for the pennant, the national pastime reflected the tensions in society and nearly sullied two men forever. Juan Marichal, a Dominican anxious about his family’s safety during the civil war back home, and John Roseboro, a black man living in South Central L.A. shaken by the Watts riots a week earlier, attacked one another in a moment immortalized by an iconic photo: Marichal’s bat poised to strike Roseboro’s head.
The violent moment–uncharacteristic of either man–linked the two forever and haunted both. Much like John Feinstein’s The Punch, The Fight of Their Lives examines the incident in its context and aftermath, only in this story the two men eventually reconcile and become friends, making theirs an unforgettable tale of forgiveness and redemption.
The book also explores American culture and the racial prejudices against blacks and Latinos both men faced and surmounted. As two of the premiere ballplayers of their generation, they realized they had more to unite them than keep them apart.
John Rosengren is the award-winning author of eight books, including Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes and Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win. His articles have appeared in Men's Journal, Reader's Digest, Runner's World, Sports Illustrated and Utne Reader, among other publications. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, he lives in Minneapolis.