One of the most deft descriptions of the 16-inning pitching duel of July 2, 1963, between Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn appears in the recently published “Willie Mays, the Life, the Legend,” by James S. Hirsch.

“By the time Mays came to bat in the bottom of the sixteenth with one out, he had gone 0-for-5 with a walk,” Hirsch writes. “But Spahn, after 276 pitches, finally made a mistake — a screwball that ‘didn’t break worth a damn’ — and Mays hit it over the left-field fence, ending the four-hour, ten minute marathon. He says it was one of his biggest homers: it allowed Marichal to win a historic duel.”

Fine writing and a surprisingly fine biography. Surprising only in that as a lifelong Giants aficionado, I thought I already knew Mays’ life story. But Hirsch’s book, which I finally devoured on recent cross-country flights, is beautifully written. It gently and skillfully presents, I imagine, about as complete a picture as any outsider will ever get of baseball’s all-around greatest player (with the possible exception of Babe Ruth). I highly recommend Hirsch’s book.

This being the 47th anniversary of that 16-inning, 1-0 Giants’ win over the Milwaukee Braves, it might be fun to list some of the game’s more intriguing trivia.

Giants manager Al Dark wanted to lift Marichal after 13 innings. Marichal, though, told the manager that if Spahn, at 42, was still out there, then he, at 25, wasn’t coming out. The logic worked.

Mays batted second that night. He had usually batted third or fourth. It was an imposing lineup that Spahn stymied: Harvey Kuenn, 3B; Mays, CF; Willie McCovey, LF; Felipe Alou, RF; Orlando Cepeda, 1B; Ed Bailey, C; Jose Pagan, SS; Chuck Hiller, 2B; Marichal, P.

The Braves’ lineup included Lee Maye, Henry Aaron and Eddie Mathews.

Spahn’s final pitching line: 15 and one-third innings, 1 run, 9 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts (and 277 pitches).

Marichal’s final pitching line: 16 innings; 0 runs, 8 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts (couldn’t find a pitch count).

Paid attendance at Candlestick Park: 15,921. But how many were there for Mays’ walk-off homer in the 16th?

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  1. asudd

    I’m a lifelong baseball and GIANTS fan, since I was 6 years old when they moved to SF. I’ve always thought that if I could go back and see any game, ever, this would be the one. For some reason, Spahn was the only non-Giant I was a fan of as a kid. 277 pitches??!!! I have read previously that for the last few innings, Marichal ran out to the mound before Dark could change his mind, and before Mays’ HR, he said something to the effect of “I’ve had enough, let’s get this thing over with!” Truly the Golden Age of baseball. Pitch count, what pitch count?

    July 2nd, 2010 12:27 pm

  2. Robert Ligon

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I became a strong San Francisco Giant baseball fan when the Giants moved from New York to SF in the late 1950′s. I did not personally attend many games but I was very fortunate at being at Candlestick this night, and watch such a great pitching duel between two Hall of Fame pitchers, Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal. I remember vividly Willie Mays hitting a homerun over the left field fence, that sent the fans home with a 1-0 victory. There were only 16,000 fans at that game, but there were far more people who claimed they were attendees of that same game. As one who was at that game, purely by happenstance, that was a magical game and cemented my love for baseball

    Robert Ligon

    October 25th, 2010 10:56 am

  3. Paul Austin

    I’ve been a lifelong Spahn fan, so I’ve read he made 201 pitches, Juan made 240 pitches. To me that sounds right, not Hirsch’s 277. His number is outrageous, so I don’t believe it. Do you know where he got that number?
    Paul Austin

    May 9th, 2012 6:24 pm

  4. James Russo

    I was at that game. Aaron hit a ball in the first that normally would have gone out, but the wind kept it in. I didn’t realize at the time what a feat I had witnessed. I remember it being really cold and my moher wanted to leave – I know it was after midnight when the game ended and we still had to drive back to Monterey. I get a kick when today’s pitchers only can give 5 or 6 innings.

    October 15th, 2012 5:29 pm

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