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Marty Marion

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Martin Whiteford Marion (born December 1 1917 in Richburg, South Carolina) is a former shortstop and manager in Major League Baseball. He batted and threw right-handed.

Marion played with the St. Louis Cardinals between 1940 and 1950. He took over managerial duties in 1951, and joined the St. Louis Browns as a player-manager in 1952, then non-playing pilot in 1953. At the end of the 1954 season he was promoted to manager of the Chicago White Sox, serving until his retirement in 1956.

In a 13-season career, Marion posted a .263 batting average with 36 home runs and 624 RBI in 1572 games. He made eight consecutive All-Star Game appearances (1943–50) and in 1944 he earned National League MVP honors. As a manager, he compiled a 356-372 record. His older brother, Red Marion, was briefly an outfielder in the American League and a long-time manager in the minor leagues.

As a shortstop, Marion was synonymous with St. Louis baseball until the appearance of Ozzie Smith. It's clear that Marion wasn't flashy as Smith, but at 6 ft 2 in and 170 pounds (77 kg), he disproved the theory that shortstops had to be small men. He brought the same grace to his position that Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly brought to the stage and films. Nicknamed "Slats", Marion had unusually long arms which reached for grounders like tentacles, prompting sportwriters to call him "The Octopus".

From 1940-50, Marion led the National League shortstops in fielding percentage four times during his reign as the glue of the Cardinals infield, despite several players moved around the infield during these years. If Gold Glove Awards had been awarded during his career, Marion would have earned his share. 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. There were many fine defensive shortstops in the 1940s, but Marty Marion and Cleveland's Lou Boudreau (who became a Hall of Famer) were considered the 2 best. Both were compared to Honus Wagner at times by veteran observers/ Pee Wee Reese (a Hall of Famer) of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Eddie Miller of Cincinnati were also highly rated defensively

Beside this, Marion was a better-than-average hitter for a shortstop. His most productive season came in 1942, when he hit .276 with a league-lead 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 with his amazing glove. In 1943 he batted a career-high .280 in the regular season and hit .357 in the 1943 World Series, which was more than respectable considering his value in the infield.

He played with many second basemen throughout his career but perhaps his favorite was Frank "Creepy" Crespi. Marion commented after the '41 season that Creepy's play was the best he'd ever seen by a second baseman - but their bond went deeper than that. Creepy once took on Joe Medwick on the field (during a game) when he was trying to intimidate Marion. They remained friends until Creepy's passing in 1990.

In 1951 Marion managed the Cardinals and was replaced by Eddie Stanky at the end of the season. Then, he moved across the town to the Browns, and took over for manager Rogers Hornsby early in 1952 as their player-manager. The last manager in St. Louis Browns history, he was let go after the 1953 season when the Brownies moved to Baltimore. He then signed as a coach for the White Sox for the 1954 campaign, but once again was quickly promoted to manager that September, when skipper Paul Richards left Chicago to become field manager and general manager — in Baltimore, ironically. Marion led the Chisox for the rest of 1954, and for the full seasons of 1955 and 1956, finishing third each season, before he stepped down at the end of the 1956 season.

Beginning 2005, according Official St. Louis Cardinals Historian Erv Fischer, Don Gutteridge is the oldest living former Cardinals player. He will be 94 in the month of June. Next in the order is Marion, at 88, Stan Musial, at 84, and Red Schoendienst, at 81.

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Preceded by:
Stan Musial
National League Most Valuable Player
Succeeded by:
Phil Cavarretta
Preceded by:
Eddie Dyer
St. Louis Cardinals Manager
Succeeded by:
Eddie Stanky
Preceded by:
Rogers Hornsby
St. Louis Browns Manager
Succeeded by:
Jimmy Dykes
Preceded by:
Paul Richards
Chicago White Sox Manager
Succeeded by:
Al Lopez

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