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On This Date in Sports July 2, 1963: An Epic Pitchers' Duel

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

It’s the pitcher’s duel of the century as two future Hall of Famers battle deep into extra innings and goes the distance at Candlestick Park. For the Milwaukee Braves, it is Warren Spahn for the San Francisco Giants. It is Juan Marichal, and for 15 innings, no runs are scored. Finally, in the 16th, the Giants get the win 1-0 on a home run by Willie Mays as both pitchers go the distance.

The defending National League Champion San Francisco Giants managed by Alvin Dark were off to a great start, entering July in first place as they were in another season-long battle with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The Milwaukee Braves, managed by Bobby Bragan meanwhile, were hovering near .500 in sixth place.

As the two teams began a three-game series on a Tuesday Night in San Francisco, both teams had their aces on the mound. The Braves started Warren Spahn, who entered the game with a record of 11-3. The Braves ace, the all-time winningest left-handed pitcher, was still going strong at the age of 41. The Giants started Juan Marichal, the Dominican Dandy who, at the age of 25, was just entering the prime of his career and entering the game at 12-3. Both pitchers were in command early as neither team was able to mount a sustained threat. The Braves had a two-out rally in the fourth, but Norm Larker was thrown out at home on a single by Del Crandall with a great throw from Willie Mays. The Braves had six hits off Marichal through nine scoreless innings, while the Giants collected five hits against Spahn. In extra innings, Juan Marichal got stronger, allowing just two hits over the next seven innings. Meanwhile, the Giants began to figure out Warren Spahn as they left the bases loaded in the 14th inning. After Marichal pitched around a two-out single from Dennis Menke, Warren Spahn retired Harvey Keunn to start the 16th inning. The next batter Willie Mays ended the game with a home run to give San Francisco a 1-0 win. With the win, the Giants improved to 45-34, while the Braves slipped below .500 at 38-39.

Inside the box score, the numbers were awe-inspiring. In 16 innings, Juan Marichal threw 227 pitches, allowing eight hits with ten strikeouts and four walks. In getting the loss, tossed 201 pitches, Warren Spahn allowing nine hits, two strikeouts an intentional walk against Willie Mays in the 14th inning. Mays was 0-for-5 before his walk-off home run in the 16th inning, while Hank Aaron went hitless in six at-bats. Warren Spahn had the Braves' only extra-base hit with a double in the third inning. Meanwhile, Harvey Keunn’s sixth-inning double was the only extra-base hit for the Giants before Mays won the game in the 16th. Juan Marichal would finish the season with a record of 25-8, leading the National League in wins. Warren Spahn, meanwhile, went 23-7.

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