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Genius, kook, or something else?
2007-05-11 14:46
by Bob Timmermann

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has a long look at the work of Mike Marshall, 1974 NL Cy Young Award winner, who runs a school for pitchers in Zephyrillis, Florida. Marshall, who holds a Ph. D. from Michigan State in exercise physiology, claims that his training technques can eliminate almost all arm injuries, yet he is not welcome in the world of MLB.

You can check the linked video in the story to see the unusual pitching motion that Marshall espouses and that is shunned by MLB primarily because it's so different from what pitchers have done for a long time.

I heard Marshall speak at last year's SABR convention in Seattle and he embodied the word "iconoclast." He was sitting on a panel discussing the early days of the MLBPA and Marshall thought that the MLBPA's biggest failing was creating a system where the highest paid players make so much more than those earning the minimum. Marshall thought that the highest-paid player on a team should make only a certain percentage more than the lowest in order to create a more equitable salary structure.

2007-05-11 15:12:16
1.   Bluebleeder87
i've read some of Jeff Passan's writing & i'm a fan but i wish he would have written a little more on the work out techniques that Mike Marshall teaches at his training center. just my two cents.
2007-05-11 15:14:31
2.   Bluebleeder87
i say the above comment because of this quote from Rudy Seanez "I had worked with Mike using his iron balls in 1989, and before the '95 season, I felt like I needed to go back," said Seanez, the Dodgers reliever now in his 16th major-league season. "When I went to spring training, the hardest I'd ever thrown was 94 mph. After that workout (with Marshall), I was throwing harder than I ever had. When I came to get stretched out a little during the season, I hit 100 mph. One of my coaches said one pitch hit 102. I was like, 'What?'
2007-05-11 15:57:57
3.   EricNus
I don't know enough about mechanics to say whether Marshall is a genius or a lunatic, but I will say this. Mike Marshall is one of the most interesting people in sports today. This piece, combined with what Jim Bouton had to say about him in Ball Four, makes me happy he exists. There aren't enough outside the box thinkers who operate (or operated) inside the game.
2007-05-11 17:55:39
4.   Eric Enders
I interviewed Marshall once, which did nothing to dissuade me from my already-forming contention that he was not entirely on his rocker. He is also one of those people who, when you ask him a question, will go on for 20 minutes without you being able to get a word in, yet will somehow still fail to actually answer the question.

I do think his system deserves a shot, though. I would think some team that has a history of being clueless about pitching (paging the Devil Rays) might find it worthwhile to just chuck everything and give Dr. Marshall a call.

Fun trivia: In the 1974 World Series Marshall picked Herb Washington off first base. A couple years earlier, Washington had been a student in a class Marshall taught at Michigan State.

2007-05-11 19:05:06
5.   Josh Wilker
4 That is fun trivia. A couple one and only's intertwined in that one: the designated pinch runner versus the man who had just finished a season in which he pitched 208 innings out of the bullpen!

And he dated Belinda Carlisle...whoops, wrong Mike Marshall.

2007-05-11 22:12:36
6.   110phil
"Commie!" -- 110phil on behalf of JM4
2007-05-12 09:18:42
7.   Philip Michaels
It has been 15 years since I was told this story by one of my journalism professors (who was only moonlighting as a teacher; he spent his days as an L.A. Times reporter), but back in the day, Mike Marshall had a beef with one of my prof's newspaper colleagues about being quoted accurately in the paper. From what I can recall, the colleague never recorded interviews or took notes, but rather, wrote direct quotes from memory.

So anyhow, Mike Marshall agrees to an interview with the guy for some story or another, and they meet for lunch. Before the interview begins, Marshall whips out a tape recorder; "Mind if I record this?" he asks. And from what my professor tells me, that left his colleague totally unnerved for the rest of the interview.

That's how I remember the story anyhow. For all I know, the person in question wasn't Mike Marshall, but Henry Kissinger.

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