Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services

July 22, 1971 Montreal Gazette

Family and Mauch Back Him So Marshall Bears the Catcalls
by Ian MacDonald
Montreal Gazette
July 22, 1971

Mike Marshall is eloquent and extremely self-confident.

Marshall will look you straight between the eyes and talk freely and objectively about his reaction to fan abuse as his pitching record tumbled to one and five and his ERA to nearly seven.

Mike will tell you he fully understands his capabilities and limitations as a major league pitcher.  Further, he will assure you that the day he cannnot pitch the way he knows he can, then he will step into other lucrative fields without prompting or pushing.

"As long as I know in my own mind that I'm doing what I can, I can't afford to worry about what people think," says the Expos relief pitcher, who has been roundly booed by Jarry Park fans and criticized by most of Montreal's media.

"I can't let fans booing concern me.  It is disturbing sometimes that people who should know do not understand.

"Some people understand, and that's important.  Gene Mauch doesn't judge on results but rather understands what I am doing and trying.  That's what puts him to the top of the heap so far as I am concerned in the judgement of talent."

But if the hard-luck pitcher can discuss his personal reaction to the booing and obscene catcalling with no outward emotion, he pauses and bites his lip when asked how his family takes the abuse.

"The oldest girl asks questions," says Marshall, and with eyes swelling, he stares at the floor.  She asks, 'Why are they booing you, Daddy?  We love you.'

That was after Marshall had been booed in the first game of the last homestand.  The team had just returned from Pittsburgh, where the Pirates had bombed Marshall, and Atlanta, where the series of hard-luck happenings that have enmeshed his every effort since began.

Eight-year-old Deborah, six-year-old Rebekah and four-year-old Kerry Jo have not attended a game since, but Mike's wife Nancy Lynne was at the park every day.

"My wife gets excited and annoyed when she hears people shout at me," says Mike.  "She's completely with me, which is what every wife should be.  I tell her not to get excited.  She says she almost gets into arguments and I tell her not to bother.

"I think perhaps she has had arguments and hasn't told me.  I don't like that.  I don't want my wife and children to be concerned about people who don't understand.  I think I would react violently if they turned my abuse to my family.

"It was simple for my wife to tell the children they couldn't go to the games.  She doesn't need a reason to tell them something.  But the oldest girl--she's sensitive, and she asks questions."

The Marshalls have not been bothered by neighbors in Pointe Claire.  They are a close-knit family.  Mike keeps busy around the house and goes out to play with the girls when the Expos are home.

On the road, Marshall leads a quiet life.  He likes to read a lot, but is not a loner.  He feels he has been fighting a struggle since that Pittsburgh series, but that he has not been all bad since then.  Mike says he reached his lowest point of fatigue and frustration when he lost a game to Atlanta during the last home stand.

Obscenities are directed loudly and clearly to Marshall when he warms up at Jarry, and media editorials have taken him over the coals.  Some reports have been incomplete in pointing out only his misgivings without telling his story.  It has been written that Marshall does not belong in the majors.  One newspaper report said that he had been out drinking half the night, and so was ineffective.

"I haven't had an alcoholic beverage for two years," says Marshall, who hopes to add a doctorate to his Masters in education soon.

"I don't go around suggesting temperance.  It's just that I find alcohol mixes up my system.  It doesn't agree with me.  So I don't touch it.  I don't need that aggravation.

"I might drop into a bar after a game to talk to people.  All I ever drink is a Seven-Up.  I can't be concerned about people who want to tear me down.  Those people have to live with themselves.  In the long run, they are hurting themselves more than they are hurting me.

"I can't imagine how someone can go out and deliberately attempt to ruin an individual.  It has been done.  Don Bosch of the Mets was ruined by one New York reporter, who took it upon himself to continually criticize and ridicule him.  Bosch came apart.  How can that writer live with himself?

"In one way, I'm glad they're doing this to me and not some other player.  They can't ruin me.  They can't destroy me.  It is not going to kill me.  My life is more important than what happens to my slider."

Marshall turned down a research job at a university this year that would have paid him $4,000 a year more than he earns with the Expos.

"But I know I can do the job in baseball.  I only started throwing the screwball in the majors last September.  I got a lot of good batters out with it because they hadn't seen one like it.  The pitch was better this spring than it was then, and it's better now than it was then.

"It's still new, though.  I know it will be better next year.  It takes the zing out of the ball when fellows can get a hit.  That's all I can do.  Fortunately, my boss (Mauch) believes it is getting better.

"As long as I am satisfied and he is satisfied, I'll keep trying."

The broken bat singles, dropped flyballs and seeing eye grounders will become outs.  Batters will continue swinging wildly at the dancing screwball.

And Deborah, Rebekah and Kerry Jo will be able to go and watch their daddy play ball.

Happy Pitching Everybody

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