Marshall, 1st reliever to win Cy, dies at 78

June 2nd, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Former Dodgers Cy Young Award winner Mike Marshall passed away Tuesday morning at his Florida home at age 78. The cause of the death was not yet known, but Marshall was under hospice care.

Marshall spent parts of only three seasons with the Dodgers, but he made them memorable. The right-hander appeared in an astonishing 106 games in 1974, posting a 2.42 ERA and securing 21 saves over 208 1/3 innings. At one point during the ‘74 season, Marshall appeared in eight consecutive games. During another stretch, he pitched in 13 in a row -- a stretch that’s absolutely unheard of in today’s game.

“I had a deal with [manager] Walter Alston,” Marshall said in a 2003 interview. “If I warmed up, I was getting into the game.”

Because of his extraordinary performance and durability that season, Marshall, who came over from the Expos in a trade the previous offseason, won the NL Cy Young Award. He was the fourth Dodgers pitcher to win the award and the first pitcher in Major League history to take home the honors out of the bullpen. He also finished third in NL MVP voting, behind teammate Steve Garvey, who won it.

“Mike had been an associate professor in kinesiology at Michigan State, where I went,” Garvey told Dodgers Insider in 2014. “I actually had him as a professor. Very cerebral. Always studied the dynamics of pitching relative to motion. What a workhorse he was [in 1974].”

Marshall was a workhorse and he credited his PhD in exercise physiology for his ability to pitch in seemingly every game without getting fatigued. His method, however, has not been embraced, with most pitchers and teams deciding to go against it, giving pitchers extra days off in order to stay fresh.

While people disagreed with Marshall, the method certainly worked for the right-hander, who also made the NL All-Star team in ‘75.

“I remember [seeing] 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,’” Marshall said. “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.”

Marshall’s career was nothing to walk away from, as he posted a 3.14 career ERA and recorded 188 saves over his 14-year career. While his most prolific seasons came in a Dodgers uniform, Marshall also played for the Tigers, Pilots, Astros, Expos, Braves, Rangers, Twins and Mets.