Mike Marshall, Cy Young Winner AUGUST 12, 1974

April 08, 2001

Hunched over a picnic table near his house in Zephyrhills, Fla.,
hands folded on a cheap plastic tablecloth, Michael Grant
Marshall, Ph.D., leaps at the chance to play professor. "For
years I tried to explain Newton's laws to pitching coaches," he
says. "Want to hear it?" Fifteen minutes later, after his
discourse, The Mound According to Mike, has meandered from the
principles of inertia to differential calculus, Marshall pauses,
smirks and says, "You are now more educated than any pitching
coach in major league baseball."

During his 14-year, nine-team big league career, Marshall's
truculence frustrated managers--"I was totally uncoachable," he
admits--journalists and the baseball establishment. While
pursuing his doctorate in exercise physiology at Michigan State
during the 1970s, Marshall applied the principles of his major
to the art of pitching and came up with a unique training
program (throwing hard every day) and a repertoire of pitches
(he perfected four flavors of screwball) that, he maintains,
allowed him to throw 100-plus innings every year from 1971
through '75. "I was dismissed as a physical freak," Marshall
says. "Until I had success, people made light of everything I
did."

In 1974, after setting the big league single-season records for
appearances (106) and relief innings (208), and going 15-12 with
21 saves and a 2.42 ERA for the National League champion Los
Angeles Dodgers, Marshall became the first reliever to earn the
Cy Young Award. "They had to give the award to me," says
Marshall, who finished his career with 188 saves and a 3.14 ERA.
"I did things nobody had ever done. For me not to be considered
the best relief pitcher in the history of baseball is silly, just
plain silly."

Marshall, 58, who has three adult daughters and three grandsons,
left a teaching and baseball head coaching job at West Texas A&M
in 1994 and, at the urging of several of his former players,
began running a baseball clinic out of his house. A dozen
pitchers are now enrolled in the Marshall Plan, a Dickensian
regimen with no off days that is conducted over 40 weeks at a
facility two blocks from Marshall's place. While their guru
expounds on physics, the pitchers grunt as they go through part
of their training, winding up with 30-pound weights around each
wrist and heaving 12-pound iron balls at a wooden backstop.
"Nobody who's gone through this program has ever gotten hurt.
These kids are now injury-proof," claims Marshall (and who's to
refute him?).

In his Florida lab the doctor is building a new class of iron
men.

--Daniel G. Habib

COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER (COVER) COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON

"For me not to be considered the best relief pitcher in the
history of baseball is silly."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)