Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services

July 02, 1978 Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times
by Scott Ostler
July 02, 1978

Mike Marshall, facing legal charges of trespassing, wanted the best legal representation available.  So he went out and got a crack amateur attorney named Mike Marshall.  Verdict:  Not guilty.

Mike Marshall needed delicate back surgery, but the standard operation would have sliced through muscle tissue.  So he had a new type operation diagrammed by an eminent doctor of kinesiology, Dr. Mike Marshall.  The operation was a success.

So successful were the court case and operation that Marshall was able to return to his favorite hobby--baseball.

Marshall is the screwball-throwing relief pitcher who in 1974 won the Cy Young Award and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant.  He displayed amazing durability by pitching in a a staggering 106 games, winning 15 and saving 21.

Two years later, the Dodgers, with a sigh of relief, traded him to Atlanta, which traded him to Texas, which saw him hang up his screwball and glove because of back and knee problems.

Now he is in Minnesota helping the Twins struggle toward respectability.

Marshall, 35, stood near the infield a few hours before game time, swinging a bat.  American League pitchers, remember, don’t get to hit, and so it is rare to find one with bat in hand.  But Marshall has never been one to follow tradition or convention.

“It’s great exercise; it helps me loosen up,” he said, grunting as he took a few vicious cuts.

Could Marshall spare some time to chat?

“Sure,” he said with a smile.  “I can talk 20 minutes right now, then I have to go take throws at first base.  That’s my job during batting practice.  If you want to talk some more, we can get together again tomorrow.”

Can this be the same guy who sometimes sniped at, mumbled to and snubbed reporters during his Dodger days?  Who was once described as working toward a Ph.D. in rudeness?

Must be.  Same sideburns, flaring across his round face to meet his moustache.  Same thick, muscular arms and stocky, dockworker body, complete with ample midsection (“Pitching muscles,” he says).

Gene Mauch, Marshall’s manager at Montreal in ‘73 and again now at Minnesota, said he had noticed changes, that the 1978 Marshall was easier for most folks to get along with.  Marshall said it was just the that he had been reunited with a manager who understood the game, and had joined the teammates who enjoyed playing it; that he had his life in order now and that baseball was fun again.

The wall of misunderstanding that gradually isolated Marshall from many teammates, reporters and fans while he played in L.A. is no longer in evidence.

On two sunny afternoons at Bloomington, he sat in the Twins’ dugout, bat in hands, and talked about his court victory, his remarkable recovery, his love of baseball, and assorted topics. Marshall needed no prodding.  One question and he was off and talking.

Though Marshall seems more at peace with the world now, he can still be the guy one Times columnist dubbed “Mr. Rips,” especially when the subject is the Dodgers.

“If I could take the Dodger talent and give it to these Twins, we’d be 40, 50 games over .500 at the end of the year,” he said.  “The Dodger talent is immense, the attitude is ****.

“A lot of people don’t understand how much I love the game and love to play it, which is why it hurts so much when I see players with their attitudes.  When your first baseman won’t get off the bag, your second baseman won’t cover the hole when you throw offspeed pitches, your outfielders won’t cover the opposite line when you throw offspeed, you can’t enjoy the game.  If it’s played right, it’s a joy, and losses are inconsequential.”

Marshall was just getting warmed up.

“The ‘74 season (at L.A.) was frustrating as hell.  Things Gene (Mauch) did at Montreal, I was having to do myself,” he said.  “If nobody else was going to move fielders to where the ball will be hit, I should.  The first time a guy wouldn’t move for me, I went to Walt (then-manager Walter Alston) and said, “ Can I get help from the bench moving these guys around?”  He said, “We’ll try, but if you see a change that’s needed, go ahead and do it.”

“Too many big egos wouldn’t move for a teammate.  It was a lot of work to have to move fielders around, and it just doesn’t look good to do it from the mound.  But you couldn’t sit down with Dodger players and talk about it.  (Shortstop Bill) Russell would now and then.  But most of them were just not available, they were out getting a soda or something.

“Walk into the Dodger clubhouse and see how many players are sitting at their lockers reading stat sheets,” Marshall said.  “Major leaguers don’t read stat sheets.  In this game, you have to say, ‘If I make an out on a grounder to second base, the runner moves over and the club has a chance to win.  Not, ‘I backhand the ball, I might get an error and not win the Gold Glove.’  That’s not baseball.”

Marshall said he liked Alston, but that Alston was being managed by someone in the Dodger front office.  General manager Al Campanis had it in for Marshall, Marshall said, because as the team’s player representative, he was responsible for presenting the team’s grievances to the front office.

“Walt Alston was super,” Marshall said, “But they really didn’t let him manage after May of 1976.”

He said Alston told him to warm up during a particular game that month and also had Charlie Hough warm up.

“With me,” Marshall said indignantly, “You warm me up, I’m going in the game.  Walt said later, ‘I wanted to put you in, but I got a call, and they said put Charlie in with a two-run lead, and if he gets in trouble, put Marshall in so he can get the loss.’

“When Alston told me I was traded, he was very shaken. He said, ‘I didn’t want you to go;  I can’t tell you what you’ve done for the team and for me.’  That’s when he told me about Charlie.  He said, ‘I had to do it.’  They wanted to build up Charlie’s stats and tear down mine so it would be easier to trade me.”

Who issued the directive?

“I think it was from … Al Campanis,” Marshall said.

Just prior to being traded, Marshall said he was called in for a meeting with Campanis and Dodger President Peter O’Malley.  Campanis, according to Marshall, said the Dodgers wanted him to plead guilty at a pretrial hearing (on the trespassing charges) and get the case resolved so Marshall could concentrate on baseball.

Campanis also brought up the subject of hotels, said Marshall, who was at least partially responsible for the team changing hotels in New York.

“He (Campanis) said, ‘We want to move back to the Waldorf.’  He said it was because the hotel bar at the Sheraton allows blacks and whites together (racially mixed couples).  I turned to Peter O’Malley and said, “Did you hear what he just said?” Peter didn’t answer.  I couldn’t believe it.  I just got up and walked out.  A week later, I was traded and, a little while after that, a story came out where Campanis said I wanted to change hotels because there were too many prostitutes wandering around.”

Campanis pleads innocent to all of Marshall’s accusations.

As for Marshall being asked to plead guilty to court charges, Campanis said:  “I never got involved in anything like that.  What I did tell him earlier, when he was involved with people not wanting him to work out at a certain place, I said, ‘Mike, why make a big thing of it.  Go some place else to work out.’  As far as I know, I never told him to plead guilty and I doubt very much that anyone did.

“He had principles, which he’s entitled to, and I know nothing about telling him what to do in the case.”

Informed of Marshall’s blacks-and-whites-at-the-bar statement, Campanis said:  “That’s a lot of bull.  He told us the players wanted to move to the Sheraton.  We found out that just he and Andy Messersmith and one other player--not all the players--wanted to move.  The players liked the Waldorf, so we went back to the Waldorf.  That’s a lot of baloney and he knows it.  I never knew about it (hotel racial policies) until now.  Don’t you think the same thing would happen at the other hotel?”

Did Campanis issue anti-Marshall instructions to Alston?

“That’s awful; that’s terrible,” said Campanis.  “Mike Marshall was traded because of his inability to pitch.  We were fortunate to get (Elias) Sosa and (Lee) Lacy back.  I have nothing to do with telling a manager how to use pitchers.”

Marshall always reported late to spring training with club permission, because he was working on his doctorate.  But in 1976, he became involved in the legal squabble over the use of a batting cage at Michigan State.  Marshall wound up cutting the lock on the cage with a hacksaw and bolt cutters.  He was arrested twice and charged with trespassing and destruction of university property.

Rather than pay a small fine, Marshall swore he would see justice done, even if he missed the entire baseball season.  Some players were publicly disgusted that a teammate would jump ship to fight a rap some thought as minor as an overtime parking violation.

“The team is not noted for its compassion,” Marshall said.  “Instead of saying, ‘What can we do to help a teammate get through a tough period?’ they think, ‘Oh, my word, how will this affect the team?  When (Davey) Lopes had a rib problem that year, I should have said, ‘You’re bringing the team down.’  But I showed him what to do.”

Lopes said he didn’t seek Marshall’s compassion.  “He isolated himself from the rest of the team,” Lopes said, “and yet he tried to be the team representative, the team doctor, the team everything.  If he had just kept his nose out of it and pitched, he’d have been better off.”

Marshall’s batting-cage caper came off as frivolous, almost comedic, in some L.A. stories and columns.  But to Marshall, it was a serious matter of principle.  He requested a jury trial and, instead of hiring a lawyer, went into intense legal self-training to defend himself.

“Lawyers are concerned with legal technicalities and legalese,” he said. “I wanted an opportunity to talk to people, talk to the students on the jury about what was going on at their school.  I wanted them to get to know me.  And the main reason was I wanted to cross-examine (the intramural director who had Marshall arrested) on the stand, under oath.

Just think of someone in your life you’d like to get on the stand under oath and cross-examine.  Would you give that up to an attorney?  I buried him.  When I was done questioning, he asked the judge if he was the one on trial.  That’s how guilty he felt.

“The judge told me afterwards that they (jurors) found out what went on and what I stood for.  I’m not difficult to like if you don’t give me a lot of ****.

“I got a lot of satisfaction out of it, although nobody mentioned that I acted as my own attorney and won.  They had me all tried and convicted.”

Mike took nearly a year off from his doctoral studies to bone up on courtroom procedures, and said he won some crucial procedural points during the trial.

“It was tremendous fun,” he said, “It’s an experience everyone should take advantage of doing.”

Marshall did not cross-examine himself during the five-day trial, but hints that he could have carried that off, too.

“In the courtroom,” he says proudly, “if they referred to the defendant (Marshall) derogatorily, I as the defendant’s attorney, never took it personally.”

Marshall swayed the jury, but not Dodger fans.

I missed just one Sunday game, and I got off to, by far, the best start of my career,” he said.

But he was booed whenever called into a game.  That was partly because of his poor ‘75 season, when his pitching time and effectiveness were limited because of an injured rib.  The boos were brought on, he said, by a subtle anti-Marshall campaign by broadcaster Vin Scully and by front office directives to Alston.

At the time, Scully’s comment to that comment was one of surprise.

“In my 27 years of broadcasting baseball, I’ve never had another player complain,” Scully said.  “I can’t think of anything I said about him that would prompt him to make the comments.  Last year, in fact, we talked constantly about how he was pitching in pain, of how he was trying to do the job, despite his rib injury.  I think, perhaps, Mike has lost sight of everything he himself has done in creating that image.”

By June of ‘76, it was clear the Marshall’s Dodger days were numbered.  An unnamed club official said, “Marshall has worn out his welcome.  The club will take virtually anything for him.”

He was traded to Atlanta and, the following April, was dealt to the Rangers.  Soon thereafter, he was shelved, permanently it seemed, by a bad back and a hyperextended knee.

“As far as I was concerned, I was done,” Marshall said.  “I have deferred compensation for 10 years, I have my doctorate.  I’m Dr. Marshall now; there was no reason for me to play baseball.”

But part of his self-designed rehabilitation program was swinging a bat and throwing a ball.

“I did some training things that were just outrageous,” he said.  I got some marvelous response.  I always expect miraculous things from the body, but they removed a (spinal) disc and I had a bad knee, and within three months I eliminated all pain.  I was jogging five days after the operation.  The doctor said it was impossible, I would have said you’re crazy if you told me I’d never again have back pain, because I KNEW it would bother me the rest of my life.  But my body went beyond my expectations.”

Gene Mauch would never be nominated for baseball’s Mr. Congeniality Award, if there was one.  Perhaps that’s one reason he and Marshall a strong friendship and mutual respect when they were together at Montreal in ‘73.

Mauch phoned Marshall last April, four months after the back operation.  Just a friendly call? Maybe, but Mauch’s bullpen was in a sad state. Mauch knew Marshall was probably finished, but.

“Mike’s an unusual man who does unusual things,” Mauch said.  “Nothing about Mike surprises you.  If he broke his neck and pitched the next day, it might not surprise you.  Our bullpen was killing us and I made an inquiry.”

Mauch’s interest grew when Marshall told him the fastball was faster than ever, and he felt fine.  Mauch said, “Come to Chicago, I have to see this.”

Mauch became convinced Marshall still could pitch, but Twins owner Calvin Griffith refused to sign the 35-year-old screwball artist.

“It’s not just Calvin,” Mauch said.  “A lot of people have had misconceptions about what kind of person Mike is.  Unless he knows a person and respects him, he doesn’t have time to fool with you.  A lot of people read that as arrogance.”

When Rod Carew, Minnesota’s star hitter, threatened mutiny because Griffith wouldn’t sign Marshall, the owner relented and got out a contract.

“There’s no team that’s going to win with out a bullpen in good shape,” Mauch said.  “Ours was not, and since he’s been here, it has been.”

In his first five appearances, Marshall pitched 10 innings, got a win and four saves, allowed one hit and retired 13 straight batters at one point.

Now he is 2-6 with 10 saves and a 2.95 ERA.  But four of his losses can be attributed to team defensive lapses and one to his own, according to one sportswriter covering the team.

Marshall pushed his bat against his interviewer’s spine.

“If you’re in a constant state of pain, you’re not going to feel like doing a hell of a lot,” he said.

He said that in the ‘74 season, it often took him a half hour to get out of bed because of back pain.

“Since my back got better, I’ve felt better.  I feel a little more relaxed.  There’s no pain, I’ve got my doctorate degree, I’ve got my kids’ education paid for.  Would you be relaxed?  That feeling of being relaxed, I suppose, helps in interpersonal dealings.”

As Mauch said, “He just hadn’t been in the business of making friends.  He had to fight for everything--college, baseball, everything he ever did.  He didn’t have time to be charming.  He’s got his life situated the way he wants it now.  He’s got time to be cooperative with people.  In that respect, he’s changed.  He doesn’t have a frown on his face and have his jaw set, except on the mound.

“I know more about pitching than any pitcher ever,” Marshall once said.

“He’s doing things that aren’t human, that I thought were physically impossible,” former Dodger pitcher Ron Perranoski once said.

Marshall does not soak his arm in ice after pitching, although for other pitchers this procedure is as basic as putting on clothes before leaving the clubhouse.

When Marshall was traded to the Dodgers in ‘74, Alston asked Mauch if Marshall could continue to pitch almost every day, as he had in ‘73.

“Only if you put him out there,” Mauch said.

Marshall insists that his amazing arm is not a natural gift, but the result of hard work and intelligent training.

“I don’t think I have anything physical over anyone,” he said.  “When I began to make myself a pitcher (he was a shortstop until 1965), I weighed 165 and could throw fairly well.  But there are 100,000 guys like that around the U.S.  It’s just my knowledge of physical conditioning.”

Dr. Marshall has used that knowledge to help rehabilitate the right arms of football quarterback Fran Tarkenton and tennis player Stan Smith.

“The doctors said Tark had no chance to play again,” Marshall said.

Marshall charged Tarkenton’s team, the Vikings, a fat fee for renewing their quarterback.  “If I made a few million dollars for them, I should get a slice.”  But, he said, he donated the money to charity.

Smith had a “real bad tennis elbow.”  Marshall said he went into the mechanics of Smith’s swing, but quickly added, “I wouldn’t want anyone to say I told Stan Smith how to hit a ball.”

Marshall’s Cy Young Award is “somewhere down in my basement, in the TV room.  You wouldn’t even see it if you came in.”

He said the award gave him “nowhere near the pride I feel in my doctorate.”

Marshall will tell you almost defiantly that he is unmoved by boos and cheers; that is what the fans think and say has no meaning to him.  However, he also said: --His wife is working on a book that will, among other things,show just how important his contributions were to the Dodgers.

--“Maybe now L.A. fans realize the quality work I did for them.”

--In 1976, he had to leave his family in Michigan and live alone in L.A. because his two daughters were in school.  “So I was out in L.A. by myself.  The fans helped by making me feel real welcome.”

--“I feel there’s something wrong with people who boo.  They are negative, insecure people.  My minor degree is psychology, so I know a little about this.  In baseball, I see beauty and artistic, acrobatic movement.  Human movement is beautiful to watch.  It’s a combination of ballet and chess.  They should enjoy it, regardless of whether their team wins or not.  Maybe that’s the fault of educators.  People aren’t pleased with what they are, so they belittle others.”

Marshall said he eventually hopes to teach at the junior high level.

“I don’t know about negative people.  I have sympathy for them.  I want to help the youngsters, so they don’t become these people.

Happy Pitching Everybody

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