Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Hint On How Stan Kasten Will Run the Dodgers

(First of Two Parts:)
I really looked forward to the event.  A night with former Dodger, Mike Marshall (the outfielder)Manager of the Independent League San Rafael Pacifics.  I figured it would be sparcely attended.  After all, what Giant fan would want to attend an event in the middle of Giant Country, (Mill Valley, CA) in which a former was being interviewed.  I thought it would be a super opportunity for me, because living here in the Bay Area, it isn’t often that I have an opportunity like this.

Mike Marshall dons the San Rafael Pacifics cap.  The former Dodger has made a career out of managing in the Independent Minor Leagues for 12 years.  (photo by Alan Dep, of the Marin Independent Journal)
So with former Giant starting pitcher Mike Lacoss also on the bill, (who also will serve as Marshall’s pitching coach),  I arrived about 45 minutes before the start of the program.  It was to be conducted by longtime San Francisco Bay Area Sportstalk host Bruce Macgowen and judging from the flyers I read that publicized the event, they would be talking not only about the Independent North American Baseball League and the Pacifics, but also about the Dodger-Giant rivalry.
I came prepared with questions and a few pieces of Dodger memorabilia with the hopes that Mike would be available to sign them afterwards.  As the first person to enter the historic Throckmorton Theatre, I sat front row, right in the center.  By the time showtime arrived, there were about 20 in attendance.  But it was an enthusiastic group.   I struct us a conversation with Patrick, a Giants fan, up until the start of the show.  He was knowledgable and respectful.  I told him about my allegiances.  He agreed, Mike Marshall mashed when he first came up and those Dodger teams in the 80s may be amongst the most underrated Dodger teams.
So the program started, and Bruce Macgowen immediately notified the crowd that Mike Lacoss would not be able to make it.  In his place, Mike Shapiro, the President and General Manager of the Pacifics would take his place.  I knew nothing of Shapiro.  But we should know about him.  Why?  Because Mike Shapiro, a baseball executive in the Major League for over 25 years has worked hand in hand with none other than Stan Kasten since 1992.  Working previously for the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, Shapiro has served as legal counsel, television production and engineering, media and rights acquisitions, facilities management, marketing, contracts, and even as a sports athlete agent.   He has done it all, and he considers Stan Kasten to be his mentor.

Mike Shapiro, President and GM of the San Rafael Pacifics, worked with Stan Kasten for nearly 20 years.
In the body of this posting, I’ll provide the Marshall interview and the questions both Bruce Macgowen and later I was able to ask him.  But in interest of addressing current Dodger ownership moves, I provide you with Shapiro’s  answers to questions about the Dodger ownership group.
Talking about the sale of the Giants to Peter Magowan and his partners in January, 1993, a move that kept the Giants in San Francisco.  Interestingly Shapiro noted that their previous owner, Bob Lurie sold the team to Magowan instead of the group that wanted to move them to Tampa for $25 million less because he preferred that they stay in San Francisco.
Mike Shapiro:  When the new Giant ownership group bought the team (in 1993) the Giants decided they would bring their own new staff in, which left me out of a job.  When your part of a senior management team, teams get bought and sold and they tend to bring their own staff with them.  So, the new Giants ownership wanted to bring their own senior management group in, which was perfectly understandable at the time.  So what happened was I was looking for another baseball job.  I happened to be in Bob Lurie’s office when he got a call from Ted Turner.  He was calling to say he was sorry that he was leaving baseball and Bob said to him, “hey, by the way, do you think you can use another executive?  (talking about Shapiro) he’s been our general counsel for business affairs, do you have a spot with the Braves for him?” and Turner said, “our Braves General Counsel is moving to Hong Kong with CNN” and the rest they say is history.
Bruce Macgowen: Seredipity.
Mike Shapiro: Serendipity.  We moved to Atlanta.
Bruce Macgowen: And you got to go there at a great period of time
Mike Shapiro: We won the World Series in 1995 and (interrupted)
Bruce Macgowen: You got the ring.
Mike Shapiro: It was an exciting era of Atlanta Braves baseball.  We also had the conversion of the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium to the new ball park at Turner Field.  The Olympics happened while we were there, I also saw the conversion of the Braves Spring Training Complex from West Palm Beach (where they were sharing a Complex with the Expos) to DisneyLand (actually it is DisneyWorld, but who’s going to argue),  where their Spring Training complex is today.  It was fascinating negotiating a Stadium deal with the Disney people.  Where I had more fun knocking my head against the wall.  
It was an exciting time, and the most important relationship I developed at that time was with Stan Kasten, who was the President of the Braves and he became a mentor for me and someone I admired greatly and learned so much about how to operate a major league franchise.  Then later on when the Expos became the Washington Nationals, I helped negotiate the Lerner family to buy the team,  I went over to help run the business affairs for the Nationals, and Stan came as President coincidentally, so I had another opportunity to work with Stan.  And now we know of course, he’s just bought the Dodgers.  
Later in the evening during the question and answer session with the audience, I asked Mr. Shapiro the following question:
Evan Bladh: Knowing Stan Kasten’s management style, what do you think he’ll do with the Dodgers?  Will he come in and clean house?  Is Ned Colletti’s job safe?
With respect to Stan and the experience I had with him, fairly recently in Washington where we came in and took over an existing organization with an existing general Manager.  It was even a General Manager that Stan did not like.  And, he never made the change.  He’s a very contemplative guy.  I have spoken to Stan recently about this.  His approach is going to be to go in to the front office and observe, and see who works and who doesn’t work for the vision that he has where the team is going to go.  And I think that’s the critical part.  Stan, he’s such a smart guy.  He has a vision.  He knows what he wants to see.  Where he wants to see it all go.  He’s going to make sure he has the parts in his organization to make that happen.
I have no idea how he perceives Ned Colletti at this point.  But I would venture a guess right now that Stan’s going to take a long, long time to evaluate whether he’s the right guy to have.
So there you have it.  Words from an executive that knows Stan Kasten very well and has worked with him in two MLB organizations.  Shapiro is practically a Marin county native and considers this area of the country his home.  He appears to be happy in this new venture to re-established organized baseball in San Rafael, but I can’t help wonder if he might have a future in the Dodgers organization once Stan Kasten begins to place people that he trusts and who share his “vision.”  I wasn’t about to ask Shapiro that question, because this event was for the Independent League Pacifics and a promotional event to push that organization, but I have a hard time believing that Shapiro would turn down another opportunity to work for his mentor with what would be their third major league organization together.
What follows is much of the exact dialogue of the event itself.  The program lasted over two hours, so I did not transcribe some of the dialogue that I believe this blog’s audience wouldn’t be interested in.  What I did provide were questions and answers that had to do with Marshall’s experience managing in the Independent League Minors, his Dodger career, baseball history, and other topics.  There was quite a bit of talk that delved into the steroid era and both Shapiro and Marshall’s takes on that.  I left much of that out because it was a bit long.  Though interesting, in the interest in space I took much of it out.
Bruce Macgowen:  Now the gentlemen that are here tonight are kind of different in that they aren’t playing at the major league level or managing at the major league level, but both have prominent experience in the Major League level...  I don’t know if many of you are familiar with the fact that here in the Marin County Area there used to be a baseball presence up until the 1970s
Now the first person I want to introduce tonight is the manager of the San Rafael Pacifics and he’s a very familiar name to those of you that have been following major league baseball for a number of years.  He played with the Los Angeles Dodgers,  now don’t boo, it’s okay, he was an outstanding hitter with the Dodgers in the 1980s and had some great years and then he went on and played in Japan.  He has been managing in the minor league level, the independent league level now for some time.  It’s a great pleaseure to have him here with us tonight, let me introduce first, Mr. Mike Marshall (applause)
We were hoping we’d have Mike LaCoss with us tonight, Mike could not make it, substituting for Mike, pinch hitting as it were is a fellow that has worked for several management groups as legal counsel.  He worked with the Giants, with the Atlanta Braves and most recently with the Washington Nationals.  He has experience with professional sports promotion, and just about every aspect of front office work with a number of different programs, the General Manager of the San Rafael Pacifics, Mr. Mike Shapiro (applause).
Mike Shapiro is a Marin county guy, who hails originally from Connecticut, (to Marshall) Mike where are you originally from?
Mike Marshall: Chicago.
Bruce Macgowen : Well welcome to the Bay Area.  Let’s talk about what this new team is all about, the San Rafael Pacifics.  I mean, first how did you become the Manager?  I know you’ve done this for a few years.
Mike Marshall: I spent about 8 or 9 years off after I retired (in 1991), and the game kind of called me back.  You really need to keep your hand really in affiliated ball to stay in because  Whether you call friends or what have you.  (It’s not easy to get back)  The easiest thing for me was (to return) where I grew up, I came back with a local independent team near home, the Schaumberg (Illinois) Flyers.  So I got into the Independent game, I had two young kids.  I wanted to play again and manage or coach near my home.  Now, 13-14 years later, between the front office and managing on the field a little bit, I have kind of made a career out of it.  It’s so much different than affiliated Minor League ball where you are developing players and taking drafted players and then moving them from Rookie Ball, A ball, Double A and Triple A.  This is totally different.  What we’re bringing to San Rafael is a level of baseball where we’re going to have Double A, Triple A, ex-Big Leaguers, all that have been released that are trying to make it back.  They couldn’t get a contract.  And as Mike (Shapiro) will tell you, we’re trying to put people in the stands, sell hot dogs, sell advertising and win.  So we’re kind of a mini version of the Majors.  We really aren’t a minor league type affiliated atmosphere.
I really enjoyed what I do.  I negotiate contracts.  I scout players, I sign them.  I coach them.  It’s been a great experience for me.  I’m excited to bring this to San Rafael and boost this league up.  Where you can see some top notch baseball at an affordable price for families.
I apologize for this shaky photograph the I took from the first row. (L-R, Macgowen, Marshall, Shapiro)
The evening progressed with a discussion of the history of the Ballpark in which the San Rafael Pacifics play, Albert Park.  Mike Shapiro mentions a bit about it’s history, the barnstorming tours that played there.  The restoration of the facility,  and how such Hall of Famers as Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Satchel Page had actually played there.
Shapiro has begun fund raising to rebuild the old ball park and he has been successful in turning the old facility into a decent place to take in a ball game.
Marshall discussed some of the players he has recruited.  One is a retired Japanese player, Nomo Suboi, a good friend of Ichiro Suzuki, who is trying to latch on with an MLB team.  He mentioned that they are currently negotiating with former Dodger, Aaron Miles (unless a MLB affiliate expresses interest).  
The season starts in June and is 84 games.  Other teams in their division of the North American Baseball League are Orange County, Yuma and Maui.  They have limited funding and attempt to schedule traveling that takes advantage of the trips with long series against each team.  Due to the economics of the league, the Maui trip involves several teams traveling there all at once in which numerous games are played.
Eventually the conversation drifted back to Mike Marshall’s MLB career as he mentioned that his pitching coach is former Red, Astro and Giant, Mike LaCoss.
Bruce Macgowen:  You guys were great friends back in the day. (referring to Marsahll and Lacoss)
Mike Marshall: I didn’t talk to the pitchers on the Dodgers, let alone the pitchers on the Giants.
Bruce Macgown:  Those were the days when players didn’t fraternize.
Mike Marshall: The game has changed a little bit.  We weren’t very friendly with the opposition.  And there were only two divisions.  In  Western Division of the National League, we’d play each other for three series home and away. So we’d see a lot of each other.  I never had any problem or got in any trouble when we played the Giants (Smirks).
(audience laughter)
Bruce Macgaowen: Mike (Shapiro) worked for the Giants at the same time that Mike (Marshall) played against them with the Dodgers.
Mike Shapiro: At that time my wife Janie was working in the security department for the Giants.  You know, Mike (Marshall) uh, maybe didn’t get along so well with our players at the time and whenever the Dodgers came to town, Jane might be in the bleachers breaking up a fight 
Bruce Macgowen:  So you wife was breaking up fights between drunks at Candlestick.  The fans were pretty rude at night.  (To Marshall) you probably had a few things thrown at you out there.
Mike Marshall:  You know it was amazing, the wind would move in there right after batting practice and the fog.  I’ll tell you, playing against the Giants was so much fun.  I mean the fans were into it.  Tommy walking out of the clubhouse and blowing kisses to the fans.  And the games.  The ’82 game when Joe Morgan hit that home run off of Terry Forster.  And we got them a couple of times.  There were so real good teams there when Roger Craig came over and turned that franchise around.  There were some good battles, so I enjoyed the rivalry.  You know it’s funny, when I signed out of High School at 18 years old and I was in Rookie ball, the Giants were Great Falls, Montana.  They were in San Jose, I played against them.  They were Shreveport, in Double A, and Phoenix, Triple A.  So all throughout my minor league career, I’m facing them for 4-5 years.  Then we go up to the Major League level.  So you can imagine the rivalry that has developed. I;m playing against the same players for years and years in the minors.  That’s why every once in a while, I got in a little trouble.
Bruce Macgowen:  The one thing I remember about Mike was that one game, I think it was in 1987.  I think they pitched around Pedro Guerrero to face you, in a tight game.  And you hit a home run, to break up the game, and as you were coming around the bases, you started doing this (points with right rand), you started gesturing to Roger Craig.  And I saw Roger Craig yelling at you later.  It got pretty heated.  I think the next hitter up got decked didn’t he?.
Mike Marshall: Yeah, and then I would get decked every game after that.  I would get thrown at too.  
Bruce Macgowen : The fans really let you have it.
Mike Marshal: Yeah it wasn’t one of my brightest moves, not a shining moment.  Every once in a while you plead insanity (laughter from audience...I provide the footage of the event via youtube video below).

Bruce Macgowen: Pedro Guerrero was intentionally walked to get to you?  Pedro Guerrero was a great hitter.  That also had to rankle you, because I’m sure you thought “I’m a pretty good hitter.”
Mike Marshall: That’s what happened, it’s just that the way I went about it wasn’t probably the most (interrupted)
Mike Shapiro:  Well I love reminding Mike that our good friend Duane Kuiper has no love lost for Mike either.  Because you broke his collarbone?
Mike Marshall:  Yeah, I’d never seen it before but Candy Maldonado hit a little pop up.  I mean when you hit a pop up, it usially isn’t barely blooped over the pitchers head, so, if you could imagine the ball is hit and, I was at first base, and I’m looking and looking and Duane Kuiper went for it and I hit him with my chin, at his collarbone.  I mean, we just came together.  I probably had a concussion, now the way they are so careful with head injuries, but um, that’s how I got back at the Giants... with Kuiper.  But we had some great, great battles.  And with what the Giants have done the last few years with the new stadium.  They have gone about building up their organization from the minor leagues on up.  Then winning a World Championship.  Sergio Romo three or four years ago played for me in an instructional league.  He was playing A ball then.  He wanted to make a club, so he came to our try-out camp out there in Arizona.  He pitched for me for four weeks.  Three years later he’s pitching in the World Series.  So that’s the type of players that’ll be playing for us.  They’re only one little step away from playing in the big leagues.
Bruce Macgowen: I remember 1988, from a Bay Area standpoint, a sad time.  Where this mighty group of young guys, the Oakland A’s, that were flexing their muscles.  Dave Stewart, and Bob Welch and of course Canseco, Magwire, and Landsford.  Rickey Henderson hadn’t come back yet.  They had a great team and you guys were sort of the forgotten Dodgers.  There some great teams throughout Dodger history but this was not a great team.  But you caught fire with Orel Hershiser, and the guy I think of that was the wild card was Kirk Gibson.  He hit that home run in that first game, I was at that game and the whole stadium was just electrified.  When the A’s walked off that field they had to be thinking,“wow, we have a real battle here.”

One of my favorite Jon Soo Hoo photos.  Shelby, Marshall and Sax celebrate as game 4 of the NLCS ends in victory over the Mets.  Shelby has just made a shoestring catch of a Kevin McReynolds fly ball to end the game.  I showed this pitcure to Mike Marshall and his wife Mary, they liked it so much, I gave it to them.  (photo by Jon Soo Hoo)

Mike Marshall: Yes it was a magical year.  Orel Hershiser breaks Don Drysdale’s record.  It was truly amazing, I think he ended up with almost 70 straight innings without giving up a run, I mean he took it right into the playoffs and World Series.  Kirk Gibson, he hit the home run, you know, how many guys win an MVP with 80 RBIs?  That’s what he did that year.  He didn’t put up incredible numbers. 
What I was looking at was, we went to the World Series in ’81, I was barely a part of that.  Then in ’83, we went to the playoffs and we lost.  Same thing in ’85.  We just couldn’t get over the hump.  We had good talent and great pitching, we just couldn’t break through.  And when we brought Kirk Gibson over from the Tigers where he had won a World Series.  He had played for Sparky Anderson.  He had that football mentality.  He was a first round draft choice and a wide receiver out of Michigan State and I needed that, because I was like one of the few guys in our clubhouse that had the football mentality .  We play 162 games and it’s hard to be mean for 162 games. It’s hard to do it and be so focused, but Gibby could do that.  He made everyone around him better.  I needed it.  I hit behind him, we worked together.  
Not only did Gibby win the MVP and Orel the Cy Young, but it was just the impact of those two guys.  One on the pitching staff and one of the regulars.  We were big underdogs against the Mets who were probably the best team in baseball having won well over a hundred games, and then we beat the A’s off of Gibby’s Home Run and then Orel  throwing, I think two shut outs.  It was an incredible experience and you see now those guys that brought us that World Championship.  You look at Mike Sciosica, and see the success he’s had with the Angels.  You see Kirk Gibson, Manager of the Year with the Diamondbacks. Ron Roenicke came up in the 80s with the Dodgers and I played with Ron, he’s having success in Milwaukee.  Then you go back to Dusty Baker, I mean Dusty Baker was a Dodger leader in the late 70s and early 80s.  Now Dusty is in Cincinnati winning titles.  The Dodger Way, the way we were brought up and the way we played the game, it is sort of what the Giants have done the last couple of years.
So it was a great time to be a Dodger.  Under the O’Malleys and the old school ownership and the way the things were in the 70s and 80s.  There are still a few of those franchises left but not too many.
Bruce Magowen:  It’s interesting talking to Mike here about going into the clubhouse if you’re a visiting reporter.  And I always felt comfortable doing this Mike because I never felt like I was intruding, as I was just doing my job.  But I know a lot of people that work in the baseball field that think that we shouldn’t be in there.  That this is where these guys work, and sometimes that forces you to walk on egg shells.   I remember with Gibson, working very carefully because I didn’t want to upset him.  Kirk Gibson was a rough customer.  You did not want to get this guy upset with you.

Kirk Gibson, at Michigan State, 1977
Mike Marshall:  When you talk to Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Lance Parrish, all the greats from those Tiger teams, they all say the greatest player, not maybe by talent, but the greatest player they ever played with was Kirk Gibson.  I just wish I could have played with Gibby more than just the two years because I could hit behind Gibby.  I mean, Gibby was a son of a gun.  He told you what he thought.  Every game was a football game, every game was a war.  I’ll never forget, Gibby would call out teammates, I wish I would have had that a little more in my career.  I was almost looked at...people used to say to me, “hey, lighten up a little bit, laugh, you know, don’t take it so seriously,” and I saw things as a battle.  And when Gibby came over it was quite a load off of me because, heck, you watch video of him.  You talk about intensity.  Watch a Diamondback game now, look in the dugout.  There’s not a whole lot of fun going on in there.  Gibby, he’s not smiling very often in there.  There’s only one thing on his mind and that is “how am I gonna beat that other team.”  Now he’s doing it with his head.  Before he was doing it with his legs and his bat.
Bruce Macgowen: Without question the most intimidating player I ever dealt with.  I remember going into that Tiger clubhouse in 1984 and interviewing a fellow by the name of Chet Lemon, just a gentleman.  I was doing this interview in a quiet clubhouse.  There were maybe 5 or 6 players around and all of a sudden I hear this screaming and yelling from across the room.  I look up and I didn’t recognize who it was.  It was Kirk Gibson and he had that hair and these wild eyes and he looked right at me. “What the bleep are you doing here? Get the blank outta here!”  I said to Chet, “What the heck?” and Chet said, “Oh, that’s Kirk, don’t worry about it.”
Mike Marshall: You go to a game today, the teams are gathered by the batting cage, and chatting ...it just wasn’t that way back then.  It was a lot different.  And we learned from the guys in the 60s.  I mean when I first got called up, we had Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Steve Yeager, Reggie Smith.  I mean Reggie was about as close to Krik as you could get in intensity.
Bruce Macgowen : He went after a fan in the stands in Candlestick.

Reggie Smith, an LA Native and Centennial High (Compton) Graduate, started his career with the Red Sox
Mike Marshall: Yes, tough guys.  They played in a different era.  You know those 60s guys with Bob Gibson and there was only half the teams you have now.
Mike Shapiro: And you were bred in the Dodger Way, from Alston to Lasorda.
Bruce Macgowen: You know as a kid growing up, There were players you were in awe of.  I’m sure Mike Marshall had his players that he idolized.
Mike Marshall: Santo, Kessinger, Beckert, Banks.  Every time you could sneak away in the summer there was day baseball with the Cubs.  Jimmy Williams and Adolfo Phillips and Jim Hickman, Randy Hundley, Ferguson Jenkins.  Those Cubs in the late 60s  were great to watch.
Bruce Macgowen: You still get sad when you think about ’69?
Mike Marshall: Yeah, Santo kicking the heels.  Losing whatever it was, 11 or 12 games in September with Leo Durocher.  But then I liked the White Sox too with Chet Lemon and Bill Melton and Dick Allen.
Bruce Macgowen: Allen smiking cigarettes in the dugout.
Mike Marshal: Yeah, I talked to Chuck Tanner many times and he said you’d put him in the three hole and hoped that he got to the game.  But let me just say that one of the amazing things about being a Dodger was going to Vero Beach, Florida as a young minor leaguer and early in my major league career and the O’Malley’s made sure on any given night you were eating dinner with Sandy Koufax or Duke Snider.  Roy Campanella was there the whole time and he’d come in the wheelchair.  Pee Wee Reese and Maury Wills and Don Drysdale.  Every night you would have dinner with them and you’d see them in Dodger town.  It was incredible.  These guys from the 50s and 60s.  There was a real pride to being a Dodger.  I still  remember we’d sit down just like you are here and you’d have Sandy Koufax telling you what it was like to face a big right handed hitter and how he would try to get him out.  I just got to learn from the best.  It made you want to be a Dodger and you just wanted to win.  That was an amazing time to be in the organization.
Bruce Magowen: Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about what it is like being in the batters box in a tight game against a big rival and everything’s on the line.  What’s going through the mind of you Mike?  Maybe it’s the 9th inning and you’re down by a run and you’re facing the ace reliever.  The average person probably couldn’t handle such pressure.
Mike Marshall: Most of the time, depending on the preparation, maybe you are on deck or maybe you are hitting third or fourth.  A lot has to do with preparation.  If you are leading off, boy, you’ve got to run off the field, get your helmet and batting gloves on and then you’re in the box.  A lot of our preparation goes on 4 or 5 batters deep.  Especially for me.  I usually hit fourth or fifth in our heyday so, there was a lot of time when Saxy would hit and get on and then Landreaux would move him over.  You know, you’d ask “ what’s Gibby gonna do?”  And so you kind of prepare yourself for the situation you’re going to be in.  If you’re 4th or 5th in the lineup and you get up that inning, there’s always going to be guys on base.  So there was a lot of preparation there, but once you get into it, it’s an amazing thing.  There’s no sound in the batters box.  That’s when things are going really, really well.  You don’t hear the heckler, you don’t hear the organist, you don’t hear the umpire.  I mean you are so in tune with things.
Bruce Macgowen: Do things actually slow down?
Mike Marshall: I’m hoping they do.  Sometimes it seems that way.  I’m hoping that it does slow down where all of a sudden you’re registering “what’s he gonna start me with?”  A lot has to do with the catcher.  Is it Terry Kennedy, is it Gary Carter.  you know, how certain catchers call pitches. Also, who’s on deck? Who’s on base?  All that sort of stuff is in your head.  At least for me.  All I can describe it as is that you’re kind of in a vacuum and there’s no sound.  There’s no sound when you’re running the bases.  There’s just no sound when you’re playing the game and then all of a sudden when you’ve doubled and you come into second, then all of a sudden the noise comes back and you hear the crowd.  But during that time at the plate and you’re facing 95 MPH heat and you’re battling or whatever it may be, it’s just, that’s how I describe it.  It’s like muting the television.
Bruce Macgowen: Hmm interesting,  You mentioned Gary Carter, who just passed away recently with a brain tumor.  Gary Carter, as you guys know, was one of the great catchers of his era.  He said something, he said, “I’ve had a lot of great experiences, my family is very important, there are a lot of things that are important besides  baseall, but I knew when I got on that ball field, I knew I was alive.”  I often hear that from athletes about when they are in the moment, it’s like your body, you’re in tune with something, you’re using your brain, but you’re using your body to and there’s something almost electric about that moment.  Gary was one of those guys I know that Mike (Shapiro) you got to know very Carter, after he went to the Giants.  One of the nicest guys, you’d go in that locker room and he was always so upbeat.  He used to get in trouble for that, they’d say he was a phony, but the reality was that was who he was.
Mike Shapiro: Especially to his teammates.  Even though I didn’t know him until a bit late in his career, with his presence, he commanded respect.  I think that his sort of “rah-rah” thing was appreciated by his teammates.
Mike Marshall:  As a batter he’d drive me nuts.  He’d always stare at you because he didn’t want you glancing back to look at signs or look at shadows so he was always staring at you and he was always talking.
Bruce Macgowen: What’d he say?
Mike Marshall:  He was trying to break you, trying to have you hear things.  Trying to get me out of that zone and (interrupted)
Bruce Macgowen: Was it friendly.

Mike Marshall: Well to him it was but to me I’d tell him to be quiet.  He’d be asking me how my family was or how the trip was going, or where I was going to eat after.  I’d just say, “Quit looking at me,” but then an amazing thing happened.  It was 1984 and he was elected to the All Star team, and Gary Carter’s was a star already.  I snuck onto the All Star team.  It’s in Candlestick Park, Gary I think hits a home run and I had more respect for him after the All Star game.  When I was playing against him I didn’t like him, and I kind of listened to everybody about the “rah-rah” stuff and “kid this” and I was like, get out of here Gary.  But he was a leader the minute we walked into that All Star game clubhouse.  He let us know that the All Star game meant something, bragging rights Natioanl League over the American League.  Gary was the leader in that clubhouse.  He wanted to win and he took the team and it was like he was the captain.  He was MVP.   From then on I knew he was the real deal.  Later he won a World Series with the Mets, and became a Hall of Famer.  I'm happy to say that he was in our Independent League.  He managed a few years ago the Orange County club and he won a championship.  I got to see the real Gary Carter at that All Star game and then  later after he started managing and I have a great amount of respect for him.  He had great faith and it’s so sad.  There really wasn’t enough said.  It was one of those things where it was on the front page for a day and then he was gone.  Somebody needs to write a book or make a movie about Gary Carter.  What an incredible life and incredible player.
Bruce Macgowen: And an incredible energy.

(To be Continued tomorrow,  Marshall talks about practical jokes, Tommy Lasorda and practicing in Spring Training, Why it was special to be a Dodger, and he answers my questions about how he and the core of prospects he came up were received by the veterans and lastly, his recollections of Fernandomania)

1 comment:

  1. That's great there was an opportunity for Q&A. Awesome that you let Marshall keep the picture you took with you. Look forward to part 2.