The Fight of Their Lives

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Select media coverage: New York Post, Publishers Weekly, WBUR: It’s Only a Game, Spitball magazine, Sports Illustrated (excerpt)


“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

Fight of Their Lives cover“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

 “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 seemingly since they were born. 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

Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, is proud to announce the February 18, 2014, release of 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 (978-0-7627-8712-8; $25.95 hardcover).

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 PunchTHE 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 premier 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 JournalReader’s DigestRunner’s WorldSports 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. Visit him at or

One thought on “The Fight of Their Lives

  1. Pingback: Take Me Out to the Ballgame! | Lyons Press

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