A CHAT WITH MARICHAL

Ken Hoffman tosses questions to baseball legend Juan Marichal

Marichal is hailed as one of baseball's greatest pitchers. Photo by Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Maybe the most under-appreciated player in baseball history — certainly the greatest modern-era pitcher for my beloved San Francisco Giants — is Juan Marichal. And I'm excited for the chance to meet him Sunday, February 10 at the 33rd Tristar Collectors Shows at NRG Arena.

Marichal, the Dominican Dandy, will join other sports legends like Roger Clemens, Jim Brown, Steve Carlton, Earl Campbell, and Big Red Machine mashers Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and George Foster at the autograph and memorabilia event.

Current sports stars like Clint Capela, DeAndre Hopkins, Jake Marisnick, and dozens more will be on hand to scribble their signatures and take photos, too.

Here are just a few notes from the back of Marichal's baseball card:

  • First Dominican player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (1983)
  • Played in every All-Star game during the '60s
  • Most wins by any pitcher in the '60s
  • Career 243-142 record
  • Joined Sandy Koufax as only pitchers to win 25 or more games in three different seasons in baseball's modern era
  • Once threw a 16-inning complete game shutout

Love this one: When Marichal was a rookie in 1960, Giants manager Alvin Dark told him, "you're going all the way today, the bullpen will be empty." In 1968, Marichal threw 30 complete games. Five different seasons, he had more than 20 complete games. Just for comparison and laughs, last year the entire Astros pitching staff recorded three complete games.

I spoke with Marichal on the phone from his home in Miami last week. I asked, is it true that when you were a kid in the Dominican, you played baseball with golf balls?

"Yes, we would find old golf balls on a local course and ask a shoemaker to wrap cloth around them. We used branches from trees as bats. We didn't have equipment, but we learned how to play. I loved baseball so much, it didn't matter that we didn't have money to buy real baseballs. I think I became a pretty good player," Marichal, 81, says.

Marichal and his friends made gloves from old burlap bags. He never dreamed that, 70 years later, people would stand in line for his autograph or take a selfie.

"It is amazing to me, but the fans are so nice. They ask about my career and the old days, my teammates like Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. They seem happy to meet me, but I'm happier to meet them," he says.

Continue reading on CultureMap and find out why Marichal ended his career playing for the Dodgers.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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