|Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services|
July 11, 1974 Knight Newspapers
By Bill Lyon
July 11, 1974
“I believe that Mike Marshall will never be a super relief pitcher again because nobody will ask him to do what we asked him to do, and Marshall has to be used a lot to be effective.”—Montreal manager Gene Mauch.
Well, so much for Gene Mauch as a seer into the future.
Mike Marshall has a right arm that must be made out of silly putty. Use it. Abuse it. Twist it. Bend it. It’s still there.
If you could make a car as durable as Mike Marshall, you could bankrupt Detroit by October.
Which, incidentally, will be about the time Mike Marshall will be pitching the Los Angeles Dodgers into the World Series.
Mauch had Marshall in the Montreal bullpen and used him and he used him and he used him and … well, Montreal won 149 games in 1972 and 1973 and Mike Marshall either won or saved the staggering sum of 77 of them. That means he had a hand, or more accurately, an arm, in 52 percent of the victories.
Then, over the winter, Montreal swapped baseball’s most indefatigable relief pitcher to the Dodgers. The Expos got a .300 hitter and a solid centerfielder in Willie Davis, and around the league the smart guys were winking and nudging each other knowingly, certain that canny, wily ol’ Gene Mauch had struck again.
He’d used up Mike Marshall, drained every last usable pitch out of his arm, and then used the skeleton as bait to steal an established star.
Mike Marshall, the smart money was saying, had an arm like a 1956 Chevy with an odometer that had passed 100,000 miles a couple of times.
Well, Mike Marshall, who wasn’t supposed to even be able to comb his hair by himself, was so used up and burned out that all he has done recently is establish a major league record by appearing in 13 consecutive games, 17 of the last 20 L.A. has played, and 57 of the Dodgers’ first 85.
At that sort of pace, he would wind up with something like 110 appearances. And, it would seem, an arm that makes creaking noises and has been stretched out so far the knuckles brush the ground.
Mike Marshall just shrugs.
“I don’t know what the limit is,” he said. “But I haven’t found it yet.”
It was suggested last week that he might be just a teeny bit on the pooped side.
“Tired? How? We’ve only played half a year,” he replied.
“The guy is an absolute fantastic physical specimen. After you’re around him for a while,” says Red Patterson of the Dodgers, “you get the feeling he can’t hurt himself no matter how much he does, It’s like he’s indestructible.
“I’ve never seen him stick his arm in a bucket of ice or put a heat pack on it. He jogs a lot. I know that. You’d think his arm would fall off or something, but he just seems to thrive on work. I’ve seen him pitch five or six days in a row and the next day, he’s out throwing batting practice.
“He didn’t get in—for a change—the other day, so instead, he went out and went through a hard warmup, just like he was in the game. The guy apparently knows himself and what he’s capable of. He tried to tell me about it one time, about kinesiology. That has to do with the muscles. He’s an expert on the subject. Most of us can’t even spell it.”
Patterson keeps the Dodger stats, and his file on Marshall is positively bulging. The 31-year-old has worked 105 2/3 innings with an ERA of just over 2.00, third best in the league, and he has an 11-3 record with 13 saves.
“The real tipoff on how valuable he’s been,” Patterson said, “is that since June 16, we haven’t had a complete game from our starters. Normally, you figure a team would be getting bombed with that sort of record. But we’ve won 14 of the 21 we’ve played since June 16 and Marshall has either won or saved all 14 of them.
“And we’ve got a 17-9 record in one-games, and in those, Mike is 10-2.”
Marshall’s stunning effectiveness may lie in part in what Mauch said: “Marshall has to be used a lot to be effective.”
Mauch also said: “He’s a man. He may not be everybody’s favorite type of person, but he’s a man. I had to go to him time and again when I knew he wasn’t at his best. But he was the best I had. He knew it and I knew it.”