Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services

April 13, 1974 Sporting News

Dodger Screwball Bullpen Gives Alston Safe Feeling
The Sporting News
April 13, 1974
by Ross Newhan

LOS ANGELES, CA:  They are similar in that they thrive in the tense, lonely world of the relief pitcher and their life line is the screwball.

The list of those who have achieved success employing the screwball as one of their primary pitches is a short one...Carl Hubbell, Russ Meyer, Warren Spahn and Tug McGraw come to mind.

And now the Dodgers have cornered two others...Jim Brewer and Mike Marshall, who are as dissimilar as they are similar.

Brewer believes that winning is the only thing.  Marshall believes that victory is in the quality of his competition.  He said he would quit if the desire to win became the most important thing in his life.

Brewer is a man of basic pursuits.  He breeds catfish, loves to fish and hunt, and built his own home in Broken Arrow, Okla.

Marshall is a complex man who can discuss Bernoulli as well as beanballs, is close to a doctorate in physiological psychology and teaches kinesiology at Michigan State.

"I couldn't even begin to spell kinesiology," said Brewer, "let alone tell you what it means.  But say all you want about our philosophies and styles, I think we're still after the same thing."

That would be a pennant, and the presence of Brewer and Marshall provides Manager Walter Alston with the best of all worlds, since he now can employ the screwball from either side to defy strategy.

It is normally the goal of the manager to match a righthanded pitcher against a righthanded batter or a lefthanded pitcher against a lefthanded batter.

However, since the screwball breaks down and away, southpaw Brewer is just as effective against righthanders and righthander Marshall is just as effective against lefthanders.

Alston can go one or two steps farther in testing the sanity of the hitters.

His relief corps includes a young man named Charlie Hough, who throws a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't knuckleball, and two rookies named Greg Shanahan and Geoff Zahn, who offer darting fastballs.

"Potentially," said Alston, "this could be the best bullpen I've ever had."

There would seem to be one question: is it big enough for both Marshall and Brewer?

Marshall appeared in a record 92 games last year and has pitched in 223 over the last three years.  He said he is capable of pitching every day and must have his work.

Brewer has appeared in at least 51 games during each of the last five years, averaging 20 saves per summer.

"I'm not concerned that I may not get enough work," said Marshall.  "If need be, I can throw on the sidelines or pitch in batting practice, which wouldn't prevent me from pitching in the game that night."

Brewer said he welcomed Marshall.

"I don't care how many games I'm in," he said, "but I do care how many games the team wins.  Marshall can help us win."

Brewer is 36 and starting his 15th major league season, and he says he is to blame for the Dodgers not winning last year.

"I was having some problems with my back late in the year and I put too great a value on my worth to the team.  Instead of saying something about my back, and receiving treatment for it, I tried to pitch with it.  The result was a disaster."

Brewer pitched infrequently during the new spring.  But he said the back seemed fine.  He is the man who has carried the relief load for several summers and now there are others who will help him with the burden.

Happy Pitching Everybody

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