Marty Marion

Martin Whiteford "Mr. Shortstop" Marion (December 1, 1917 – March 15, 2011) was an American Major League Baseball shortstop and manager. Marion played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns between 1940–1953. He was a defensive stalwart of the Cardinals' dynasty in the 1940s, which saw them win three World Series in a five year span, and was named the National League Most Valuable Player in 1944, the first shortstop in the history of the National League to win the award.[1] Marion managed the Cardinals in 1951, the Browns from June 10, 1952, through 1953, and the Chicago White Sox from September 14, 1954 through 1956. During his career, he batted and threw right-handed, stood 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and weighed 170 pounds (77 kg).

Marty Marion
Marion in about 1953
Shortstop / Manager
Born: (1917-12-01)December 1, 1917
Richburg, South Carolina, U.S.
Died: March 15, 2011(2011-03-15) (aged 93)
Ladue, Missouri, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1940, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
July 6, 1953, for the St. Louis Browns
MLB statistics
Batting average.263
Home runs36
Runs batted in624
Managerial record356–372
Winning %.489
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Baseball career

Marion in 1941

Marion was born in Richburg, South Carolina. He grew up in Atlanta, where he attended Tech High School and played baseball for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.[2][3] His older brother, Red Marion, was briefly an outfielder in the American League and a long-time manager in the minor leagues. Nicknamed "Slats", Marion had unusually long arms which reached for grounders like tentacles, prompting sportswriters to call him "The Octopus". A childhood leg injury deferred him from military service in World War II.[4]

From 1940–50, Marion led the National League shortstops in fielding percentage four times, despite several other players being moved around the infield during these years. In 1941 he played all 154 games at shortstop (also a league-high) and in 1947 he made only 15 errors for a consistent .981 percentage.

Marion was also a better-than-average hitter for a shortstop. His most productive season came in 1942, when he hit .276 with a league-leading 38 doubles. In the 1942 World Series, one of four series in which he participated with the Cardinals, he helped his team to a World Championship. In 1943 he batted a career-high .280 in the regular season and hit .357 in the 1943 World Series.

He played with many second basemen throughout his career, including Frank "Creepy" Crespi. Marion commented after the 1941 season that Crespi's play was the best he ever saw by a second baseman. Crespi once took on Joe Medwick on the field (during a game) when he was trying to intimidate Marion. They remained friends until Crespi's death in 1990.

Marion's playing career was interrupted in 1951 by knee and back injuries.[2] That season, he succeeded Eddie Dyer as manager of the Cardinals, leading them to an 80–73 record and a third place finish, but was replaced by Eddie Stanky at the end of 1951. He then moved to the American League Browns as a player-coach, and took the reins from Rogers Hornsby on June 10, 1952, as their player-manager. The last pilot in St. Louis Browns history, he was let go after the 1953 season when the Browns moved to Baltimore as the Orioles. He then signed as a coach for the White Sox for the 1954 campaign and was promoted to manager that September, when skipper Paul Richards left Chicago to take on the dual jobs of field manager and general manager in Baltimore. Marion led the White Sox for two-plus seasons, finishing third in the American League each time, before he stepped down at the end of 1956.

In 1958, Marion purchased the Double-A minor league Houston Buffaloes from the Cardinals, and successfully moved the team to the Triple-A level under the Chicago Cubs farm system.[5] He later sold the team to a group led by William Hopkins on August 16, 1960.[6] Hopkins then sold the team to the Houston Sports Association led by Roy Hofheinz who had obtained a major league franchise in the National League which became the Houston Astros.[7]

Career statistics

In a 13-season career, Marion posted a .263 batting average with 36 home runs and 624 RBI in 1572 games. His career fielding percentage was .969. He made All-Star Game appearances from 1943–44 and 1946–1950 (There was no All-Star Game in 1945). In 1944, he earned the National League Most Valuable Player Award. As a manager, he compiled a 356–372 record.

Managerial record

TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
STL1951 1548173.5263rd in NL
STL total1548173.52600
SLB1952 1034261.4087th in AL
SLB1953 15454100.3518th in AL
SLB total25796161.37400
CWS1954 936.3333rd in AL
CWS1955 1549163.5913rd in AL
CWS1956 1548569.5523rd in AL
CWS total317179138.56500
Total728356372.48900

Later life

In 1957, Marion and business partner Milton Fischman attempted to buy the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball Association from owners Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen with the intention to move the team to Kansas City, Missouri. Instead, Berger and Chalfen sold the team to Bob Short, who moved the team to Los Angeles. Marion died of an apparent heart attack on March 15, 2011. He lived in Ladue, Missouri.[8][9]

See also

References

  1. Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p. 152, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  2. Goldstein, Richard. "Marty Marion, Cardinals's Slick-Fielding Shortstop, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  3. Asher, Gene. "School of Champions". GeorgiaTrend. GeorgiaTrend. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  4. Francis, Bill. "Marty Marion — No Shortage of Talent". National Baseball Hall of Fame. Cogapp. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  5. "Marion Gets Lumps as Front Office Man". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 1960-03-22. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  6. "Buffs President Marion Sells Stock, Bows Out". St. Petersburg Times. August 17, 1960. p. 3-C.
  7. "Houston Will Get Emphasis, Paul Declares". Observer–Reporter. 1961-01-19. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  8. "'Mr. Shortstop' Marty Marion dies". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. March 17, 2011.
  9. "Marty Marion dies; shortstop was MVP with '44 Cards". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. March 16, 2011.
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