Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services

1968 Toledo Blade

By Tom Loomis
Toledo Blade
April 19, 1968

Mike Marshall is a highly intelligent, tremendously intense, and extremely complex person.

He is also a baseball pitcher, which adds up to a great deal of incongruity between his personality and his profession.  This is not to say all pitchers are stupid or simple.  Nor is it true that they should be.

But, in baseball circles, there is a theory that a pitcher can do too much thinking.  Mike will be the starting pitcher for the Toledo Mud Hens when they open their International League baseball season in Louisville Saturday night.

He’ll have to guard against pondering too long on a question that has been bugging him for two weeks:

What in the world am I doing with the Mud Hens?

“I’m thrilled that Jack Tighe has this type confidence in me--to start me in the opener,”  Marshall said from his home in Adrian, Mich., Thursday night.  “I wish I knew what I have to do to instill this type of confidence in Mayo Smith.”

Marshall, a masters degree candidate at Michigan State, was completely shocked in Lakeland, when Smith, the Detroit Tigers’ manager, told him he was going down to Toledo.

“I have no idea at any time what he (Smith) is thinking,” Marshall said.  “I tried to find out why.  I don’t want to put across the idea there is animosity toward him on my part.  It just seems to me there is a serious lack of communication.”

Rumors have it there was a one-hour conversation between Smith and Marshall after Mayo decided to cut him.

“He really didn’t say anything,” Mike says now.  “All he could say was the usual clichés.  Go back and work on my stuff.  Don’t get discouraged.  That sort of thing.  He doesn’t have to treat me like a child.”

Marshall reported to spring training late, having been held up at school in East Lansing.  Smith kept saying that Mike was “behind the others.”

Mike says he wishes he knew this.

“I had certain goals I was working toward (in Lakeland),” he said.  “I was not trying to show I was ready.  I threw all winter.  I wasn’t behind.  In the last week down there, I was going to throw hard.  Well, in the last week I didn’t get the chance to show anything.”

When he was sent over to the Mud Hens, Mike said, he told Hens manager Tighe, “I’ll show you how ready I am.”

On a Monday, he recalled, he pitched four minutes “on the side.”  Same thing on Tuesday. Wednesday, he threw 15 minutes of batting practice.  Then, on Thursday, he started in an exhibition game in Louisville.

“When I’d pitched three or four innings, Jack realized I’d thrown a lot that week and he asked me if that was enough,” Mike said.  “I told him I was fine and he said to go ahead and go as long as I could.  I told him right then that I’d finish it for him.  I was still strong at the finish.  The only thing that stopped me was that the game was over.”

Louisville won 2-1, but right then Tighe became convinced that Marshall would be his opening pitcher.

This will be quite a switch for Marshall.

“I’d never started any game in pro ball before,” he said.  “Once I went nine innings in relief in my first year as a pro, but I’ve always been a relief pitcher.”

Previously, Marshall has said he didn’t want to be a starter.  Now, he claims there were two reasons for that.

“One reason I liked relieving is that that’s the quickest way to get to the majors.  If they know you can go in and get people out, they are going to give you a chance.

“The main reason I like to relieve is that I can get in a lot of ball games.  I like to play.  As you know, I started out in baseball as a shortstop and the reason was I could play every day.  Relief affords more opportunity to play.  I don’t mind pitching every day. It’s lots more fun.”

But Mike has no apprehensions about starting, although the Tigers may have some when they find out Tighe is using him that way.

“I pitch the same way,” he said.  “I just go at the batters one at a time.  No one ever said I couldn’t start.  They know I have enough stamina.”

Mike was hurt loading his car and reported to the Tigers injured last May.

“If you closely scrutinize my earned run average,” he said, “you’ll see that it was 0.88 for my first 45 innings once I got started.”

He was, in fact, the workhorse of the Tiger bullpen in July and August, and appeared in 37 games.  But, down the stretch, after being tagged for a couple of big blows in key situations, he was used only a couple of times.
,br> Smith made a few cracks about “these bright college boys” and seemed to take objection to the great number of different types of pitches that Marshall tried to throw.

Sidetracked in the middle of a hot pennant race, Mike ended up frustrated and discouraged.  But he had no idea Smith was down on him enough to farm him out this spring.  Marshall’s final ERA of 1.98 was the lowest on the Tigers in 1967.

Mike has great confidence in himself.  But he is a little apprehensive about his baseball future right now.

“I’d hate to think I’m messing around as a fringe ball player,” he said.  “I have other things I’d like to pursue if that’s going to be the case.”

One other thing about being sent down bothers this 25-year-old righthander of many moods as well as many pitches.

“When they send someone down for no apparent physical reason, the other players have to think there’s something wrong with him.  It took a while, but the ball players finally got so they showed a little faith and trust in me last year … you have to have this to be a part of the unit.

“Then, this spring, they were using me functionally a little bit better … I started to show them really what type of person I was…”

What Mike Marshall has to realize is that the big thing is that he gets the other side out for Toledo.  If he does, he’ll be back in Detroit.  And if he gets the other side out there, no one will worry about what type of person he is.

Except Mike Marshall, that is.

Happy Pitching Everybody

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