Marty Marion - No shortage of talent
During an era that included future Hall of Fame shortstops such as Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto and Lou Boudreau, Marion was talked about as possibly being the greatest defensive shortstop the game had ever known. In his prime he was also compared to the legendary Honus Wagner.
“I’ve looked at a lot of shortstops,” said Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack in 1944, “but this fellow is the best I’ve ever seen. Although Wagner was a better hitter, I don’t think he could cover more ground.”
“I’ll have to admit that the Marion kid handles himself as well as Wagner in the field,” said Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem in a 1944 interview. “You know, the first year Marion was up there (1940) I watched him play and really felt sorry for him. He couldn’t do anything right. But the next year I was so impressed I had to tell him, ‘Son, you’re the most improved ballplayer I ever did see.’ And what a shortstop he is now.”
Though he batted only .267 with six home runs and 63 RBI, Marion captured the 1944 National League Most Valuable Player Award, voters claiming it was his defense and leadership that gave him the edge. That same year he finished second to golfer Byron Nelson in the Associated Press’ voting for Male Athlete of the Year.