Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marty Marion dies; shortstop was MVP with '44 Cards, Last STL Browns Manager

Marty Marion, known as "Mr. Shortstop" to a generation of St. Louis Cardinals fans, died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday night, according to his nephew, Scott Marion.

Mr. Marion was 93 and lived in Ladue a suburb of St. Louis.

Also known as "Slats" during his St. Louis career from 1940-50, Mr. Marion was the Cardinals' shortstop on four National League pennant-winners and three World Series championship teams (1942, '44 and '46). Marion also played for the St. Louis Browns as player/manager in 1952-53. He served as the Browns last manager before the team moved to Baltimore.

Mr. Marion's signature season was 1944, when he won the NL's Most Valuable Player award. According to Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch, this was more of a leadership and fielding award as Mr. Marion was considered the glue of the great Cardinals teams in the '40s. He batted .267 in '44. then sparked a Cardinals defense that made just one error in a six-game "Streetcar Series" victory over the Browns, who committed 10 errors.

His best season as a hitter was 1943, when he batted .280 in the regular season and .357 in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Stan Musial won the first of his three MVPs that year. In 1942, he batted .276 and led the NL with 38 doubles.

Mr. Marion made All-Star Game appearances in 1943-44 and 1946-50 (there was no All-Star Game in 1945), and led NL shortstops in fielding percentage four times during the decade. He was 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds during his playing days, and was known to sportswriters of the time as "The Octopus" because of his long arms and extraordinary range.

"You look at his stats and everything, he should be in the Hall of Fame," former teammate and Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst said today in Florida. "He never ever tried to say that he belonged in the Hall of Fame. He liked baseball. That’s why he played it.

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