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Marichal returns to city of All-Star MVP performance

Hall of Famer tossed three shutout innings in Minnesota at 1965 Midsummer Classic @sfgiantsbeat

MINNEAPOLIS -- Juan Marichal listened to the list of hitters he retired on July 13, 1965. Future Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and Al Kaline fell victim to his repertoire of deliveries. Legitimate sluggers such as Rocky Colavito and Willie Horton couldn't get the ball out of the infield against him.

"I was lucky enough to get those good hitters out," Marichal said.

Marichal's modesty would have been laughable if he didn't balance it with sheer greatness, which was plain to see on that afternoon 49 years ago when the Twin Cities hosted their first All-Star Game. Starting for the National League, Marichal surrendered one hit in three shutout innings, faced the minimum nine batters and was named Most Valuable Player in the NL's 6-1 victory.

This was a typical performance for Marichal, who could be considered the finest All-Star pitcher in NL history. The high-kicking Giants right-hander made eight appearances in Midsummer Classics and allowed one earned run in 18 innings. That's an ERA of 0.50.

Again came the modesty.

"When you face that many good hitters and you come out with an ERA like that, you have to be lucky," said Marichal, who's now 76 and among a handful of baseball legends participating in activities surrounding Tuesday's All-Star Game at Target Field.

Marichal's record screams that he was good as well as fortunate. He entered the Hall of Fame with a 243-142 record, a 2.89 ERA and 244 complete games. He won more than 20 games in six seasons and won 191 games in the 1960s, more than any of the era's outstanding pitchers.

That era also featured imposing hitters such as Killebrew, who was performing before his home fans at Metropolitan Stadium. Of course, Marichal accumulated his impressive totals by subduing such individuals. Marichal retired Killebrew on a fly ball to center field, concluding a perfect first inning.

"We tried to stay away from him with a fastball outside, a slider inside, maybe see the ball real tight inside and go back outside, and that was the way I think I got him out," Marichal recalled.

The NL won 26 of 29 All-Star Games from 1960-85 (two games were played annually from 1959-62). Possessing an acknowledged edge in talent, representatives of the Senior Circuit were bent on proving their superiority each year. Marichal embraced this mindset.

"I always was motivated on the mound," he said. "Every time I was on the mound, I wanted to do a good job and tried so hard to do it. I think I did."

Finally, a hint of self-congratulation amid all that modesty.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.

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