The final lecturer at a daylong seminar on sports medicine held at UCLA recently was Mike Marshall, a Ph. D. candidate in kinesiology at Michigan State and, in his other life, the Iron Mike of the Dodgers' pitching staff.
Marshall's topic was "Longitudinal Effects of Adolescent Baseball Throwing Injuries" and his passion was vented at the youth programs that pressure young players into weekly pitching assignments, ever greater speed and breaking pitches.
"Over the past 20 years, by using adult rules in children's baseball programs, we have selectively taken the best arms and ruined them," he said. "There is no way that adolescent injuries can be mended. They are handicaps for life."
If Marshall had his way with Little Leaguers, he would rotate their positions every inning. He would also have them pitch to their own team, with each batter getting only two pitches. That way, Marshall feels, every player would learn control and the mechanics of throwing, and most of the stress would be removed from young arms.
To illustrate his point, Marshall and a fellow Michigan State kinesiologist, Charles Beach, showed X-ray slides of Marshall's elbow and that of a damaged 15-year-old.
"You can see how clean my elbow joint is compared to his garbage dump," fumed Marshall. "This obviously shows that pitching in 106 games last season didn't damage my elbow because I had a good structure to begin with."
Marshall credits his hardy elbow structure to a bank teller in Adrian, Mich. The teller was a standout pitcher on the teams of Marshall's youth and went on to pitch high school, college and a little pro ball before bone chips finally did him in. Thanks to the talented teller, Marshall didn't get around to any real pitching until he was 21.
"And I didn't throw a screwball until I was 24," he says.
EXECUTIVE SWIMMING HOLE
The White House once had a 15' by 50' indoor swimming pool. It was built in 1933 to provide hydrotherapy for Franklin D. Roosevelt with pennies contributed by schoolchildren around the country. In 1969 Richard Nixon had the pool covered over and the space converted into a press room.