‘Iron Mike’ Marshall, first reliever to win Cy Young Award, dies at 78

The Astros say that Mike Marshall died from complications of ALS.  Marshall was a legendary reliever for the Houston Astros in the 1960s and ’70s. He won the Astros’ only Cy Young Award in 1969, the year after he struck out the first eight batters he faced in a game against the Chicago Cubs.

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LOS ANGELES — Mike Marshall, who became the first assistant to win the Cy Young Award when he pitched 106 games in one season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a major league record, has died. He was 78 years old. Marshall died Monday night at his home in Zephyrhills, Florida, where he received hospice care, according to Dodgers officials who spoke with his daughter Rebecca on Tuesday. She gave no cause of death. The team called for a moment of silence in Marshall’s memory before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Louis. Marshall played for nine major league teams from 1967-1981, compiling a record of 97-112 and an ERA of 3.14. He made 880 hits and 188 saves. Marshall won the National League Cy Young Award in 1974 with a record of 15-12, an average of 2.42 earned points and 21 saves. This season, the right-hander, nicknamed Iron Mike, has set major league records for appearances (106), innings worked (208), games played (83) and consecutive games played (13). Mike Marshall won the Cy Young Award in 1974 after a 15-12 series with a 2.42 ERA and 21 saves for the Dodgers. Getty Images He was an All-Star with the Dodgers in 1974 and 1975. He ran to the bullpen, as today’s players do, and didn’t ride a wagon, as he did then. In the postseason of 1974, Marshall pitched in two games of the NL Championship Series and all five games of the World Series, in which the Dodgers lost 4-1 to the Oakland Athletics. He saved the Dodgers’ only win, a 3-2 victory in Game 2, by catching fastball pinch-hitter Herb Washington at first base in the ninth inning. Marshall still holds the American League record for most innings pitched in a season, playing 90 games for the Minnesota Twins in 1979. He led his league four times in innings pitched, three times in saves and five times in strikeouts. He was known to throw a screwball, an elusive pitch that hits in the opposite direction of a slider or curveball. Depending on the angle of the pitcher’s arm, the ball may also fall. Fernando Valenzuela won the Cy Young when he pitched for the Dodgers. Major league pitchers didn’t like balls like Marshall’s a few generations ago. In fact, the only player who has thrown a ball this season has been Marshall. Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Brent Honeywell Jr. learned to hit a curveball from his father, who was Marshall’s cousin. Marshall taught the Honeywell senior how to pitch when he was young. Michael Grant Marshall was born on the 15th. Born in Adrian, Michigan, in January 1943, he began his major league career with the Detroit Tigers in 1967. They brought him back in 1968 when he was drafted by the Seattle Pilots, an extended team. In 1970, he played one season for the Houston Astros. He played for the Montreal Expos from 1970 to 1973, where he peaked with a 1.78 ERA in 1972. The following year, he led the NL in saves and games thrown. After the 1973 season, he was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder Willie Davis and played three years for Los Angeles. Marshall is not related to outfielder Mike Marshall, who won the World Series with the Dodgers in 1981 and 1988. From 1976 to 1977 Marshall moved to the Atlanta Braves, and in 1977 he moved to the American League to play with the Texas Rangers. He played for Minnesota from 1978 to 1980 and finished his career with the New York Mets in 1981. At the age of 17, Marshall was contracted as a free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960. He didn’t pitch professionally until 1965. He was acquired by the Tigers the following year. While with the Twins, Marshall earned a doctorate in kinesiology from Michigan State. In the months leading up to the record-breaking 1974 season, he almost retired to concentrate on his studies. Instead, he decided to pitch for the Dodgers. At the time he promoted a throwing method he had developed that, according to him, could prevent hand injuries. Marshall found that the arm rotation of many pitchers led to injuries to the ulnar collateral ligaments that required Tommy John surgery, named after Marshall’s former teammate with the Dodgers. It was Marshall who advised John, then a 31-year-old left-hander, to undergo the still experimental procedure that repaired his elbow and saved his career. Marshall leaves behind his wife, Erica. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Nancy, who died on the 30th. April died in Minnesota at the age of 78. The couple had daughters, Deborah, Rebecca and Kerry.

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