It is best that
Mike Marshall never learn that his peers—if it can be said he has any—tend to
think of him as a luxury item. As an academician and a libertarian, Marshall
has little tolerance for those who would confuse a person with a commodity. The
dignity of man is one of his enduring passions, a subject to be taken no more
lightly than, say, physiological psychology, his field of scholarship at
Michigan State University.
when Walter Alston was asked last week to describe what the addition of this
indefatigable relief pitcher had meant to his team, the Dodger manager said,
"Mike Marshall gives us the luxury to do things we could not do
before." He cited as a perfect example the events of that very night when
Andy Messersmith, the Los Angeles starter, mysteriously departed a game against
San Diego after seven innings of nearly flawless, seven-zip pitching.
Naturally, his replacement was Marshall, making his 70th appearance of the
season. With the bristling efficiency that characterizes his every movement on
and off the diamond, Marshall mixed his favorite screwball with a good fastball
and a hard slider to retire the next six Padres and preserve the victory.
Messersmith removed?" Alston was asked.
"We talked it
over and decided to rest Andy for the important games coming up with Houston
and Cincinnati," he replied. "And we had a pretty good man out there in
whose record is 13-2, miffed at being deprived of both a complete game and a
"So what if I
go nine and get a shutout?" he said. "That's personal baseball, and I
don't believe in it. Besides, Mike had a day off yesterday and we were afraid
he'd get rusty."
Two nights later
Marshall relieved starter Al Downing after that worthy walked the first San
Diego batter in the seventh inning. Downing was leading 3-1 despite occasional
fits of inaccuracy and seemed to be pitching effectively enough. No matter. In
came the ubiquitous Marshall for the 71st time. Did the Padres score another
run? Is a betting man a good credit risk? Marshall not only shut them out in
the remaining three innings, he singled in two of the five runs the Dodgers
scored after he appeared on the scene.
But why was
Downing taken out of the game so abruptly?
getting in trouble with his control," said Alston.
"We only had
a two-run lead," said Downing, a gracious man. "And we've got a pretty
good man out there in the bullpen."