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" 'Because if you have one good year in baseball, for five more years they expect you to have another good one.'
"I was a third baseman, but when I reported to camp they had 11 third basemen and no shortstops, so I figured I'd have a better chance making shortstop. I was 6 feet 3 inches and weighed about 160—I'm 180 now. A tall shortstop was unheard of then, but I didn't care.
"I can't think of anything exciting about my career as a ballplayer," Marion insisted. "It was just to play baseball day in and day out. I was. very lucky to play with a good club. If I had been the same shortstop with a last-division club, I never would have been called Mr. Shortstop. When you're taking your bows about being a good ballplayer, you can thank the good Lord that you played with good ballplayers, which certainly helps.
"The only thing is, since I made the grade, the trend started to be toward tall shortstops. If they were agile enough, they could do more things. Most shortstops are getting into tall stages now, Chico Carrasquel, Harvey Kuenn, Gil McDougald. These boys aren't as tall as I am. Tall ones are still pretty rare, but the scouts are always looking for them.
"There have been very few pennants won without having a good shortstop. Outside the catcher, he's in more plays than any other man, and he's in the most important defensive position, for most balls go to the shortstop because there are mostly right-handed hitters in the league.
"Certain things a shortstop has to do are mostly God-given. You have to have a real good arm, a good pair of hands because you can't boot too many balls at shortstop and still throw them out. You have to have range and be able to go to your left or right equally as well because you have a lot of ground to cover. You have to be able to come in or go back on balls. One thing you don't have to be is a great hitter. Most teams feel if you hit .250, they'll carry you in that position.
COULDN'T HIT A LICK
"When I started training with the Cardinals, Frisch told someone who told it to me later. 'I don't see how that kid ever made it. He just couldn't hit the ball out of the infield....' I don't think I ever got to bat. I did all the shagging for the guys who hit, but it was a wonderful experience.
"Originally, I had planned to be a mechanical engineer, and I went to Georgia Tech but quit to play baseball. My first year—I played with Rochester for three—I used to carry those engineering books around with me. I used to study them, too, because I looked so lousy playing ball, but it's funny how, the better I got, the books seemed to drop aside. When I got established, I forgot all about mechanical engineering and I'm sure glad.
"Wally Alston was my roommate that first year in Rochester, but I was so homesick, all I could think of was my family and my girl, Mary [ Dallas], but I knew I should stick with it because homesickness was part of the trials and tribulations of being a ballplayer. Once I got married, Dec. 27, 1937, it made a better ballplayer out of me because I had peace of mind and something to work for.