This Date in Baseball History- December 5, 1973- the Los Angeles Dodgers traded their long time center fielder Willie Davis to the Montreal Expos for the best relief pitcher in the National League in 1973- Mike Marshall. This trade would have a major impact -immediately for the 1974 Dodgers. Mike Marshall had what I would say is the greatest season a relief pitcher has ever had. In 1974 Marshall would pitch in a record 109 games- a record which still stands 47 years later. Marshall was not a one inning come into the game in the 9th inning to get a save pitcher. In those 109 games- Marshall set another record that seasons which still stands for relief pitchers- he pitched a total of 208.1 innings. Consider this- in 2021 only three starting pitchers pitched more innings than Mike Marshall did in relief in 1974. Marshall would lead the league in saves with 21 and have a record of 15 wins and 11 loses and a 2.42 ERA. He would win the Cy Young Award and finish 3rd in the NL MVP Award voting. The Dodgers would make it to the World Series that season- their first since 1966- but lost to the Oakland A’s.
Willie Davis would only spend one season with Montreal- he had a decent year 12 home runs 89 RBI’s and a .295 average.
That was a great trade. He was a workhorse for sure. Getting that many innings in relief is mind boggling. The 1974 World Series was the first baseball game I noticed on tv. My dad was watching it…I didn’t know what was going on but I remember the green and yellow of Oakland.
Marshall runs some kind of pitching school but MLB doesn’t use or listen to him. It’s an unusual pitching motion that he claims will eliminate most pitching injuries.
Marshall was a maverick- I always think of the Warren Zevon song Bill Lee— ‘you’re supposed to sit on your ass and nod at stupid things- man that’s hard to do’– Marshall thought differently- so he was ‘weird’- to baseball management. Marshall died in May at 78.
Dang…I didn’t know he died. I know baseball is slow…slower than slow to change but the guy seem to know what he was taking about. Here is a sad statement he made…
“You spend your lifetime working on something that everybody ignores,” he said, “and then you’ll understand.”
Yep, I don’t think I ever saw him in a game, but I remember him well from baseball cards and magazines. Like Max said, mind-boggling… 109 games! 208 innings out of the bullpen… and effective ones too. And it seems like he pitched a huge amount for many years. Too bad he died; if he were alive I’d be calling him if I was a GM to get him to instruct.
He was a real iron man–the first thing I remember him for is- being Jim Bouton’s buddy and chess playing partner in Ball Four.