"Put your club a run ahead in the later innings, and Marichal is the greatest pitcher I ever saw." – Alvin Dark
Juan Marichal made his major league debut for the Giants against the Phillies on July 19, 1960. He retired the first 19 batters, and carried a no-hitter two outs into the eighth inning, limiting the Phils to one hit en route to a 2-0, complete game victory with 12 strikeouts and just one walk. The 22-year-old right-hander would go 6-2 that year with a 2.66 ERA.
In 1962, he went 18-11, helping lead the Giants to the NL pennant, though pitching only briefly in the World Series loss to the Yankees due to an injury. The next season was the first of four consecutive 20-win campaigns for Marichal, who topped that mark of excellence six times, and won 25-or-more games three times.
Marichal had his breakout season in 1963, going 25-8 and leading the NL in innings with 321.1. June was particularly memorable, as he won five games without a loss, including a shutout of the Dodgers on the road and a 1-0 no-hitter against Houston in his next start on June 15.
As one of the top hurlers of the pitching-rich 1960s, Marichal posted all six of his 20-win seasons in that decade, leading the NL in victories twice. He also led the league twice in complete games, shutouts, innings and WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). He led the league in winning percentage in 1966 and in ERA in 1969.
For his career, Marichal went 243-142, which for many years was the top win total among Latin American pitchers. Nine times his season ERA was under 3.00, and his career mark was a sparkling 2.89. Six times he struck out more than 200 batters en route to 2,303 lifetime Ks, and he recorded 52 career shutouts. He was a 10-time All-Star and was the game’s MVP in 1965.
Marichal is remembered for his distinctive, high leg kick, described by sportswriter Ron Bellamy: “The symbol of his artistry … was the windup, with the high, graceful kick that left the San Francisco Giant hurler poised precariously on one leg like a bronzed Nureyev before he swept smoothly forward and propelled the baseball toward the plate.”
In 1983, Marichal became the first native of the Dominican Republic to earn election to the Hall of Fame.