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Mike Marshall (1943–2021), Cy Young Award-winning pitcher

by Linnea Crowther

Mike Marshall was an MLB pitcher who was the first relief pitcher to win the Cy Young Award.

MLB career

Marshall didn’t make his Major League debut until 1967, when he was 24 years old, pitching for the Detroit Tigers. He would go on to play for nine teams over 14 seasons, with perhaps his most notable years coming with the Montreal Expos from 1970 to 1973 and the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1974 to 1976. Marshall was an original member of the Seattle Pilots in 1969. In 1974, he won the National League Cy Young Award, the first relief pitcher ever to receive that honor, and he was named National League Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. Marshall was named an All-Star in 1974 and 1975. He was especially known for his screwball.

While he was still actively working in the MLB, Marshall also pursued a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, which he earned in 1978. He began his study after experiencing a sore arm, wanting to learn ways he could protect himself from pitching-arm injuries. After his retirement from MLB in 1981, Marshall was a physical education teacher and later founded a baseball clinic in Florida, where he taught a pitching method based on what he learned in his doctoral studies.

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Marshall on his pitching method

“I remember the sportswriters in Los Angeles come into the locker room and ask: ‘How are you able to do this? You’re going to break down. I said: ‘Hey, it’s simple. It’s kinesiology, and all you have to understand is what the latissimus dorsi muscle can do for you. And then you get to use the triceps brachii and the inner teres. It’s right there.’ And they’d walk away.” —from a Los Angeles Times interview

Tributes to Mike Marshall

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

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