Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services

1973 Sporting News

Marshall's Scroogie Pays Off to Tune of 50 Thousand
The Sporting News
by Ian MacDonald
March 24, 1973

Mike Marshall has been throwing a screwball in live action for three years now.  The pitch is so effective that he will be earning $50,000-plus for his frequent jogs from the Expos' bullpen this season.

One has to wonder what the 30-year-old Ph.D. candidate would be making if he had been permitted to throw his bread-and-butter pitch earlier in his career.

"Mayo Smith wouldn't let me use the pitch in Detroit," Marshall recalled after his first workout here, one week after camp had officially started.

"Barney Schultz and Sal Maglie wouldn't let me use the pitch at Seattle.  Harry Walker was against me using it at Houston.

"Don't ask me why, but if you get a chance some time, ask them.  I've been throwing the screwball regularly for three years and I've never had a sore arm."

Marshall has been throwing his version of the screwball with remarkable success for these past three years.  Last year, emerged quite definitely as one of the game's superior relievers, forging a 14-8 record with 18 saves and a superb 1.78 earned-run average.

"My screwball is not really the same as others," Mike said.  "You can't identify my pitch with the screwballs that Tug McGraw and Jim Brewer throw.  They throw what is accepted as a screwball.  My pitch should be called something else.  The ball spins in a different way.

"Nobody else can throw the pitch that I have."

Marshall developed his pitch throwing against a brick wall of the field house at Michigan State in East Lansing, where he works each winter on his Ph.D. in education.  The righthander prides himself on the fact that few batters have handled his pitch, but he points out quickly that he needs other throws in his arsenal as well.

"Any good .300 hitter can make contact with the screwball--if he knows when it's coming," Mike said.  "That's why I work on a fast ball and a slider as well. You keep the batter off balance and then the screwball is tough.

"If you ask me who deserves credit for my pitch, to be perfectly honest with you, I would have to say Mike Marshall.  I thought about it, practiced it, perfected it and threw it."

There was one frustrating stage in Marshall's career when men of lesser constitution might have cracked or certainly given up on the money pitch.  That was during a stretch in June and July, 1971, when the Pirates in particular, were successful against him.

There were extenuating circumstances.  There were misplayed balls.  There were freak bounces.

But through it all Manager Gene Mauch stayed with his man and Marshall never lost faith in the value of the key pitch.

Now Marshall can look back and answer frankly a question about how many men have really connected off his "screwball" for a home run.

"There's only one man who has hit a home run off my screwball," Marshall said, "and I don't even give him credit for it.

"It was last year (April 27) at Los Angeles and we were leading the Dodgers, 4-1, in the eighth inning.  I walked a man.

"This was no time for a hitter to be swinging away.  I threw a sort of half screwball to Steve Garvey.  The ball was high and only had a little spin.  It dropped a little and he hit it out.

"I told Steve he had no business swinging for the fences at that time.  The next two times he came up, I broke his bat."

"Oh, I suppose there'll be others that hit it.  I hope there won't be too many."

The Expos don't think there will be too many.

Happy Pitching Everybody

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