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Director/baseball fan Marshall dies at 81

Game was a lifelong passion for Hollywood writer/director
MLB.com

Legendary writer and director Garry Marshall, a lifelong baseball fan who had a role in one of Hollywood's most famous baseball films, died on Tuesday at age 81.

Marshall passed away because of complications from pneumonia after suffering a stroke, the Associated Press reported, citing a statement from Marshall's publicist, Michelle Bega.

Legendary writer and director Garry Marshall, a lifelong baseball fan who had a role in one of Hollywood's most famous baseball films, died on Tuesday at age 81.

Marshall passed away because of complications from pneumonia after suffering a stroke, the Associated Press reported, citing a statement from Marshall's publicist, Michelle Bega.

Marshall was best known for creating numerous beloved television shows such as "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley" and "Mork & Mindy," and he directed films such as "Pretty Woman," "Runaway Bride" and "The Princess Diaries."

Video: Garry Marshall talks 'Mother's Day' on MLB Central

Marshall also worked on many projects as an actor, including in "A League of Their Own." The 1992 film was directed by Marshall's younger sister, Penny Marshall, starred Tom Hanks and told the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which was created to help fill the void left by ballplayers serving in World War II. Garry Marshall played the role of league founder Walter Harvey, and earlier this year in an appearance on MLB Network, he dished to host Matt Vasgersian about the cast's baseball chops.

"Rosie O'Donnell could play ball, and Geena Davis learned to play, and Madonna was a little shaky," Marshall said. "We had her at third base, but hops were hitting her all over. We moved her to the outfield, and she played very well in the outfield."

Video: Garry Marshall from 'A League of Their Own'

Although Marshall's years in Los Angeles converted him to a Dodgers fan -- he had season tickets at Chavez Ravine -- his baseball ties went all the way back to his time growing up in the Bronx as a Yankees supporter. In fact, during an interview on MLB.com's Express Written Consent last year, Marshall said he used to have a job selling scorecards at Yankee Stadium. For each one he sold, he earned half a cent.

Marshall later attended Northwestern University and said he served for a time as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He eventually found his way into the entertainment business, but baseball remained important to him.

"All my shows had softball teams," Marshall said on Express Written Consent. "We taught Fonzie [Henry Winkler's character on "Happy Days"] how to pitch. Ron Howard was a great player … all the 'Happy Days' guys could play. Scott Baio played shortstop. It was all a part of my life -- sports and show business."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.