New York Post:
A "must-read."  For baseball fans of a certain age, it’s the ugliest thing they’ve ever seen in a game. Aug. 22, 1965 at Candlestick Park. Giants star pitcher Juan Marichal clubbed Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with his bat after what he thought was a throw too close to his head. Blood poured down Roseboro’s head. 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. –Billy Heller

Boston Globe:
A book about a fight during a baseball game almost 49 years ago may seem less than necessary. A book about forgiveness and healing in the context of sports and beyond should be welcome any time. –Bill Littlefield. Read the complete review at

SF Gate:
"The battle at Candlestick," writes John Rosengren in the gripping and insightful "The Fight of Their Lives," "meshes and crushes for 14 full minutes. All the while and long afterward leaving those who saw it and those who didn't to wonder, what happened to start this madness?"

For nearly half a century, fans have wondered what happened. Rosengren, author of several books, including the superb "Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes," fleshes out a fascinating story - the tensions created by the civil war in Marichal's native Dominican Republic and the riots in Watts near Roseboro's home in Los Angeles - and builds the incident into one of baseball's greatest stories, culminating in the unlikeliest of friendships. –Allen Barra. Read the complete review at

LA Weekly:
The hottest volume this April, and especially for locals, has got to be The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball's Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption, by John Rosengren, who last year penned the well-received Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes. Dodger fans who've seen the bat-wielding Marichal one way since the talked-about-for-50-years 1965 melee may come away with another view.–Howard Cole

Publishers Weekly:
Arriving just in time for the opening of Spring Training, this dual-biography of San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher John Roseboro is told through the prism of a fateful Sunday in August 1965, when one man struck the other in the head with a baseball bat. Marichal's shocking and defiant act, which resulted in 14 stitches above Roseboro's left eye, occurred in the heat of a pennant race between bitter rivals, set against a violent backdrop of civil war in the pitcher's native Dominican Republic and the racially provoked Watts neighborhood riots in South Central Los Angeles. In alternating chapters, Rosengren (Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes) provides insightful context as he chronicles the surprisingly similar lives of both men-their childhoods in humble homes, their remarkable defensive skills on the field, the prejudices they faced as minorities in Major League Baseball's segregated culture of the 1960s, and the shared animosity they ultimately channeled into friendship and forgiveness. Hardcore fans will crave more details about each player's overall career, but those are available elsewhere. Rosengren's retelling, true to its title, pivots on one historic incident that overshadows the other, more significant accomplishments of both men.    

The Library Journal:
The “fight of their lives” refers to one of baseball’s nastiest incidents, right alongside Ty Cobb leaping into the stands to pummel a disabled fan who was heckling him. On August 22, 1965, San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal clubbed Dodgers catcher John Roseboro over the head with his bat. Rosengren (Hank Greenberg) tells the story of each man’s life before and after the event. He also illuminates mitigating circumstances in the form of the heated Giants-Dodgers rivalry, a tight pennant race, the African American Roseboro’s concerns about the Watts riots, and the Dominican Marichal’s about revolution in his homeland. Largely it is a story of regrets. Marichal’s are obvious, since an essentially good man was vilified, but Roseboro also had regrets because he realized that he provoked the attack by whistling the ball he was returning to pitcher Sandy Koufax within a hair’s breadth of the ear of Marichal in the batter’s box. Finally, this is an uplifting story of the men’s eventual reconciliation and friendship. VERDICT Baseball history well told; for all baseball collections.—JB


“Rosengren’s research brings to life one of the most graphic brawls on the baseball diamond. It is an important contribution, not only to baseball history, but to the history of race relations in the United States and Latin America.”  –Douglas K. Lehman

Common Reader
Rosengren constantly nudges readers to realize both men do not exist in a vaccum—void of any connection to other people, traditions, or social factors. Thus, chapter five is titled “Summer of Fury” to make the reader privy to the Watts Riots that erupted a few weeks earlier and to serve as a reminder that the 1960s was an intense, unique decade in American history, fraught with declarations of redefinition that created social turbulence that forged dramatic social reforms in the United States. This is a story of heroism, cowardice, miscommunication, racism, the 1960s, and reconciliation. It is about much more than a fight. –Thabiti Lewis; read the full review at

Tampa Tribune:
Rosengren puts the incident and the careers of Marichal and Roseboro into proper perspective in The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball’s Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption.  Rosengren is coming off an excellent biography of Hall of Fame slugger Hank Greenberg (Hero of Heroes), in which he focused on the religion of the Tigers’ star and how he was the standard bearer for the Jewish faith.

This project was a little different. Rosengren’s work on Greenberg focused on one career. In this case, he traces the careers of Marichal and Roseboro, giving the reader a well-rounded look at how they got to the defining moment of their career (and make no mistake, neither man was able to shake that incident from the public’s consciousness) and then examining how both men reconciled with each other. –Bob D'Angelo; read the full review at

The Sports Books Guy:
"The societal upheaval is used as a backdrop in this part of the book and here again, Rosengren does an excellent job of weaving it into the accounts of the baseball players. . . . Rosengren paints a wonderful picture of Roseboro reconciling with Marichal at a charity golf tournament and showing his forgiveness by campaigning successfully for Marichal’s election.   That chapter, along with quotes by Marichal at his induction ceremony and at Roseboro’s funeral in 2002, made this book a wonderful story of redemption, forgiveness and friendship.  A book that goes well beyond the baseball, it is one that any fan of baseball or stories of friendship will enjoy."  –Lance Smith, the Sports Books Guy; read the complete review at

Fan Graphs:
"There is more to what happened than a heated rivalry and an act of violence. That is true not only from a baseball perspective, but from a sociological one as well. A new addition to my bookshelf — The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball’s Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption — tells the story well. I asked the author, John Rosengren, for a snapshot of the incident."  –David Laurila. Read the full piece at

The Classical:
"Nearly half a century after Juan Marichal pummeled John Roseboro over the head with a baseball bat at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the photograph of the incident still resonates. It could hardly be otherwise: this is, after all, a Hall of Famer perpetrating a felony assault on an opponent, at home plate. It remains one of the most disturbing images in the history of the national pastime, if not in all of modern sports."  –David Davis  Read Davis' interview with John Rosengren at
This is an important book, not only because it takes an informed and sensitive look at one of baseball's most infamous incidents. The story it tells offers the evidence of real human redemption, even in the most difficult circumstances. Out of ugliness, in this case, grows hope." –MIchael Bauman. Read the whole column at

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Rosengren tells both of their stories before and after that August 1965 game, adding nuance and context to a seemingly straightforward bad-news sports story, and giving both Marichal and Roseboro their due — as ballplayers and as men." –Chris Foran.  Read the review at

Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine

"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." Read the review at

San Francisco Book Review

"Author John Rosengren doesn’t simply examine the fight, but he puts it in context for the times when racism against both blacks and Dominicans in the sport was rampant. He looks at where they came from, what brought them to this point, and how they moved on after, ultimately learning the power of forgiveness." Read the review at

Sports Illustrated

Read an excerpt at

Author interviews:

Tip of the Goldberg

Radio interviews:

NPR's Only a Game with Bill Littlefield.  Listen at
The Jim Engster Show, Louisiana Radio Network  Listen at
The Idea Exchange with Brenda Murphy, Wisconsin Public Radio
WCCO interview with Steve Thomson
WMPR The Conversation with Cyrus Webb  Listen at
KVON Conversations with Jeff Schechtman
KZFR Peace and Social Justice with Laurel Avalon
WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin
KZOK Community Matters with Lee Callahan
WHMP The Bill Newman Show  Listen at
KCBX Ideasphere with Guy Rathbun
WBZ The Jordan Rich Show  Listen at
WORT The 8:00 Buzz with Aaron Perry
WCBQ The Business of Wisdom with Dr. Alvin Jones
WEAA Keep It Moving with Marsha Reeves Jews
The Frankie Boyer Show on National Radio Network  Listen at
WFAN interview with Bob Salter  Listen at
WABC The John Batchelor Show
The Frankie Boyer Show, National Radio Network
KDKO Progressive Talk with Dr. Daddy O 
KRWM Sunday Morning Magazine with Kate Daniels
WGCV The Armstrong Williams Radio Show
KAXE with Scott Hall, Minnesota Public Radio
KGNU Morning Magazine with Kathy Partridge
WCCO The John Williams Show
WFAN Talking Baseball with Ed Randall
WIP Interview with Peter Solomon
KMA The Morning Show with Dean and Don
WAMC Interview with Joe Donohue, Northeast Public Radio  Listen at
The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC  Listen at
WCCO-TV, Saturday Morning Show, Minneapolis
WYGM, The Beat of Sports, Interview with Marc Daniels
Sirius XM, Remember When with Ed Randall and Rico Petrocelli
Sportsnaut Unfiltered, Interview with Malcolm Michaels
KPCC, Air Talk with Larry Mantle  Listen at
Sports Radio NY, The Talk of New York Sports with Bill Donohue  Listen at