The Fight of their Lives by John Rosengren

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. 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 better ballplayers of their generation, they realized they had more to unite them than keep them apart.

Praise for The Fight of their Lives:

“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

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. 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

"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"

“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

“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. 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

“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