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One-man show relives infamous baseball brawl

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It is Aug. 22, 1965, at Giants Stadium and Dodgers pitcher Juan Marichal is up to bat. One ball and one strike go by, and San Francisco Giants catcher John Roseboro manages to tickle Marichal’s ear with the ball on his return throw to the pitcher. The angered Marichal retaliates by striking Roseboro with his bat, an act that would escalate into one of the biggest and most notorious on-field fights in baseball history.

The brawl between Marichal, one of the first stars from the Dominican Republic, and Ohio’s own Roseboro has lived in infamy for decades. What many enthused sports fans might neglect to recognize, however, is the correlation between this fight and the social and racial issues that were prevalent in America at the time.

Beginning Thursday and running through Sunday, the Wexner Center for the Arts will be hosting solo performer Roger Guenveur Smith in “Juan and John,” as he brings to light the story of these two baseball greats.

Audience members will journey with Smith back to 1965 to see a reenactment of the fight and explore how events such as the Vietnam War and the fighting in the Dominican Republic contributed to the hatred between these two men and their baseball teams.

“Roger is one of foremost solo theater artists in the U.S.” said Chuck Helm, director of performing arts at the Wexner Center. “Since the success of his first show, I have been looking at a good opportunity to bring him back to Columbus.”

Chelsea Conway, a first-year in classics, is curious to see the performance.

“I think this event sounds interesting,” she said. “Though I’m not really a huge baseball fan, I’d definitely be curious to see how Smith goes about his reenactment and what methods he uses to engage the audience.”

Drew Calabro, a second-year in political science, also finds the nature of the event intriguing.

“I’m really into history, so I’d definitely be curious to see exactly how Smith relates American history to America’s greatest pastime,” he said.

The show will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday in the Wexner Center Performance Space. Entry costs $18 for the general public and $10 for students.

“Based on our audience’s interest in (Smith’s) last show here, ‘A Huey P. Newton Story,’ I expect that many will eagerly anticipate his telling of this infamous clash of baseball legends in ‘Juan and John’ and how that unfolded against the incendiary times of the Vietnam War and the Watts Riots,” Helm said.

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