Pinchpenny Phillie: Brandon Marsh Is a Major League Luddite

The 26-year-old outfielder is a mainstay on baseball's best team, but that won't make him change his shopping habits—much to the amusement of his teammates.
Marsh hasn’t let his success influence his spending habits.
Marsh hasn’t let his success influence his spending habits. / Michael Laughlin-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Marsh recently had an experience familiar to many of us: He decided not to wait in a long line at a store. Then he had an experience it’s hard to imagine anyone reading this has shared: He returned to his life without even considering visiting the store’s website. 

That sequence was nothing new for Marsh, whose Philadelphia Phillies own the sport’s best record and who himself might own the most surprising one.

“I’ve never bought anything online,” he says. 

Wait, like, ever

Never, the Philadelphia left fielder insists. He thinks about it a little longer. It’s possible he bought a pair of Jordans online during the pandemic, he says, although he can’t quite remember. But as far as he can recall for sure, never. 

His analog lifestyle extends back as far as he can remember. He uses a smartphone, but he says he has also never owned a computer or a tablet. He used those devices occasionally at Buford (Ga.) High School, but the school provided them and then took them back. 

Still, much of modern American society is now built around ecommerce. Some 79% of Americans shop online, according to Capital One, largely because it’s so convenient. No one seems to have charted how many Americans have ever shopped online—presumably the question does not seem worth asking. Those figures increase among wealthy Americans (Marsh will make $766,500 this year) and young Americans (Marsh is 26). 

So this seems impossible. Some of the people around him doubt him. “No way,” says backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, 30. General manager Dave Dombrowski, 67, goggles at the idea. “I buy a lot of things online,” he says. 

But third baseman Alec Bohm, 27, who along with a third friend lives with Marsh, stops to ponder the question. 

“He doesn’t have packages coming to the door,” he says slowly. “So it could be true.” 

Oh, it’s true, Marsh says. And he has a good reason. 

“You do it once, you keep doing it,” he says. “I like money.”

Bohm likes this explanation. “You know, that makes complete sense,” he says. “I can see him going through an hour on his phone and not realizing how much he’s added to his cart until he’s done.”

This is a fair concern. It’s also pretty hard to manage. First, let’s acknowledge that it helps to be a professional athlete. Marsh’s agency, ACES, sends merchandise. The Phillies outfit him with plenty of athleisure. And nearly every day he arrives at his locker to find a Philadelphia novelty T-shirt draped over his chair. For his other sartorial needs, he heads to the mall. 

O.K., but what about food? Takeout? Groceries? No need, he says. The third roommate is a chef. Sundries? Marsh is a simple man, he says. He doesn’t need much. And if something comes up that he can’t buy himself in person, he asks someone else to order it for him and pays them back.

That doesn’t happen often, though. “When we go somewhere, he’s always trying to pay,” says Bohm. The two became friends shortly after the team acquired Marsh from the Los Angeles Angels at the 2022 trade deadline; they moved in together last year. As they have matured, so have the Phillies: a trip to the World Series in ’22, another playoff run last season and now a spot atop the sport with MLB’s best record (29–13). 

Marsh’s bat has slowed a bit after a strong start, but he has added above-average offense to his excellent defense; according to Baseball Reference, he’s been the Phillies’ seventh-most valuable player this year, with 1.1 WAR. He is setting himself up nicely for his first chance at salary arbitration, this winter. He will likely make millions of dollars. He will spend none of them online.


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Stephanie Apstein

STEPHANIE APSTEIN

Stephanie Apstein is a senior writer covering baseball and Olympic sports for Sports Illustrated, where she started as an intern in 2011. She has covered 10 World Series and two Olympics; and is a frequent contributor to SportsNet New York's Baseball Night in New York. Stephanie has twice won top honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors, and her work has been included in the Best American Sports Writing book series. A member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and its New York chapter vice chair,she graduated from Trinity College with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Italian, and from Columbia University with a Master of Science in journalism.