How else can you describe a guy who seriously considered retiring from the sport so he could focus on his P.H.D. studies before his record setting 1974 season?
If you've ever read Jim Bouton's hilarious and landmark book "Ball Four" you read about Marshall's legendary battles with his then-manager Jim Schultz while both were members of the ill-fated single-season organization Seattle Pilots.
This guy was something else. And his arm was undoubtedly something else as well. In no less than three seasons, Marshall appeared in 90 or more games, including his record-setting mark of 106 in 1974 that still stands today.
And UNLIKE today with specialty pitchers who come in and face a batter or two, when Marshall came into a game, he pitched.
In 1974, purely a relief role, Marshall threw an astounding 208.1 innings, going 15-12 with a 2.42 E.R.A. and a league-leading 21 saves. Amazing by any standard, any era.
This easily got him a Cy Young award that year, beating out fellow teammate Andy Messersmith, while also finishing third in M.V.P. voting as well.
When it came to baseball cards, Marshall was equally as "unique". Rumor has it that he was a bit of a headache for Topps, refusing to "pose" for pictures. Because of this, his cards featured action shots between 1974 through 1977.
Then, after his '77 card, he disappeared altogether. Why I have no idea. But even though Marshall played through the rest of the decade, there were no cards for him in the 1978 and 1979 set.
I'll come back to his missing 1978 card at a later date since I have to do some extensive Photoshopping to have him in a Texas ranger uniform (I can't find a good shot of him while pitching for Texas).
But for today, I'll go ahead with a "gimmie" and design a 1979 card for him.
1979 was another amazing year for Marshall. He appeared in an A.L. record 90 games, closing out 84 of them, good enough for a 10-15 record with a league-leading 32 saves. Those numbers got him a fifth-place finish in the Cy Young voting that year, which marked the fifth time he was in the running for the award in his career.
He even finished in 11th place for M.V.P. as well, which was the fourth time he garnered serious attention as "Most Valuable Player" during his playing days.
But because of what I understand as "problems" between Topps and Marshall, he was not included in the set that year, leaving a gaping hole for a guy who was as good as any coming into a game as a reliever.
It must have been frustrating for fans of the Twins, and more specifically Marshall, to rip open packs during the late '70's only to find that one of your best pitchers wasn't even depicted on a card.
Then again, from everything I've read online, he's about as tough an autograph to get as anyone else out there, long refusing to sign his name for fans, so perhaps they weren't really missing him too much after all.
|PHD, rubber arm, and one mean set of sideburns.|