Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services

July 06, 1974 Sporting News 2

Marshall Book?  To Messersmith It's Best Seller
The Sporting News
July 06, 1974
by Ross Newhan

LOS ANGELES, CA:  It was inevitable that they would become close friends.

Each is intelligent and articulate.

Both stress a mental approach to the game while also being students of physical conditioning.

The one, Andy Messersmith, was a student at the University of California when he decided he had time later to pursue his education, that he first should take advantage of his physical ability.

The other, Mike Marshall, is a professor of kinesiology at Michigan State and is working toward his doctorate in physiological psychology.

Marshall carries a black briefcase in which he keeps his doctoral work and also a loose-leaf notebook he employs in his "hobby" of baseball.

In that notebook, The Professor has compiled a thorough breakdown on every National League hitter.  While other pitchers talk about keeping a book, Marshall does it.  And Messersmith is a charter member of Marshall's book club.

Messersmith has met with Marshall to study his analysis before almost every start this season and he said it has had an influence on a string of performances that are the best of his career.

"I've made 15 starts and 13 of them have been quality efforts," said Messersmith.  "I've come very close to pitching as well as I can pitch. I'll win 90 percent of my starts if this continues.  I've never pitched this well, even when I won 20 (1971)."

The intense righthander was standing by his locker at Shea Stadium on June 16 after he had pitched a five-hitter to give the Dodgers a 7-1 victory over Tom Seaver and the Mets.

It was his seventh win in nine decisions, his eighth complete game, and it lowered his earned-run average to 2.27, best among the starters on a staff that led the National League in ERA.

The lone New York run came with two out in the ninth and snapped a string of innings in which Messersmith had not allowed an earned run at 35.

In the four games of that streak, besides the win at New York, Messersmith had pitched two shutout victories and lost to St. Louis, 1-0, on an unearned run.

"He's been outstanding," said Manager Walter Alston.  "Not many pitchers have better stuff and he's seemed to have gotten it all together."

Messersmith said that some credit should go to Marshall.

"Mike makes a study of the hitters and I respect his knowledge," said Messersmith.  "I've been spending time with him prior to each of my starts.  I don't know how much his book has contributed.  But it's one more thing I have going for me."

Said Marshall:

"I've been doing this since the middle of the 1970 season.  I keep track of every pitch I make to every hitter.  After a period of time, you should be able to form an idea of the best way to pitch each hitter.

"I wouldn't think of going around and foisting the information on my teammates, but I'm willing to share if someone asks.  Andy is a hard worker who is determined to get the best out of himself.  Thinking is one way to do it."

Many people think that Messersmith has the best stuff in baseball.  It was said about him when he was with the Angels in the American League and it has been said about him since he came to the National League.

This is a man who can get you out with four pitches...fastball, slider, curve and change-up.

The change-up has been termed baseball's best since Johnny Podres was active, but it is the development of the curve, said Messersmith, that now has made him the complete pitcher. "It's funny," he said.  "In the past, people would talk about my curve, saying how great it was, and yet I never really had a very good one until this season.  Now, yes, I do have the four pitches and they've all been working for me.  I've also had command and control."

Messersmith was 14-10 last year, his first with the Dodgers.  He now admits he was pressing some in a bid to justify the trade in which the Dodgers sent five players to the Angels for Messersmith and Ken McMullen.

The pitcher said he approached this season with a much more relaxed attitude, that he took a low-key posture in spring training and has attempted to maintain it.

His start is the best of a career characterized by poor starts.  He was 0-5 in 1969 when he won 16.  And he was forced to win nine of his last 10 decisions in reaching 20 in 1971.

In the spotlight on the mound, Messersmith avoids it off the field, a man who zealously protects his privacy.

Although a handsome bachelor, a carbon copy of actor Ryan O'Neal, Messersmith disdains Hollywood in favor of a beachfront apartment in Corona Del Mar, 80 miles to the south.

During the interim, on vacation, he will camp out with friends in Yosemite or undertake a backwoods trip with former teammate Nolan Ryan of the Angels.

He will always take a book along.  This summer, he has been borrowing one that belongs to Mike Marshall.

Happy Pitching Everybody

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