UPSTATE N.Y. SPORTS LORE: Randy Marshall … from Moose, to Pudge, to Nolan, to Bo
In 1986, Mayfield High School graduated a class consisting of approximately 70 students.
One of those students was three-sport star Randolph “Randy” Marshall, who excelled in soccer, basketball and baseball. On the baseball field, he was a four year starter at the shortstop position and was the team’s most valuable player in his last three seasons.
As a senior, he batted over .500, with 8 home runs, 7 triples, 6 doubles, and 34 RBI’s in just 13 games. His batting and slick fielding earned him the “Recorder’s Outstanding Athlete of the Year,” “Tri-Valley All-Star,” and the “Co-Tri-Valley League Player of the Year.”
Despite playing for a small Class C program, he garnered the attention of Division I college programs throughout the Northeast, and as far west as Texas (Texas A&M). He ultimately chose to attend Le Moyne College (Syracuse NY) on a full athletic scholarship to play for the Division II Le Moyne Dolphins baseball program and legendary college coach Dick Rockwell.
During the summer of 1986, Marshall suited up to play for Craig Phillips on the Tri-County Stars team that competed in the Schenectady Connie Mack League to sharpen his skills before attending Le Moyne in the fall. He left Phillip’s squad for one week in July after being chosen to compete in the prestigious “U.S. Olympic Festival” which took place in Houston Texas.
The festival was designed to help the U.S. Olympic Committee develop future Olympians. Competitions in 38 different sports took place on non-Olympic years, rotating to different cities across the country from 1978 through 1995. Marshall was chosen to play for the East Baseball Team and was a teammate of future baseball Hall of Famer Mike “Moose” Mussina. Their practices were held in the Houston Astrodome, and they played their games at Rice University’s Cameron Field, going up against the best amateur competition from across the country.
David Wiltey from Johnstown also competed in the festival as a kayaker. The opening ceremonies took place at the Astrodome and were an Olympic-like spectacle that included Marshall and the other 3,000 athletes competing, as well as 32,401 fans who attended to watch.
In the fall of 1986, Marshall began his collegiate career at Le Moyne and was immediately moved by coach Rockwell to the first base position. He learned the position and took over as Le Moyne’s starting first baseman during his freshman season in the spring of 1987.
During that first campaign, he lit up Division II pitching by batting .416 (52 for 125), and hitting 14 home runs. Le Moyne went 29-3 overall and Marshall received All-Northeast Region honors.
During his sophomore season, Le Moyne moved up to the Division I level in the Eastern Coast Athletic Conference Upstate (ECAC) because they were having difficulty finding Division II opponents willing to play them.
By Marshall’s junior season (1989), he had made the transition to Division I competition and hit .374 (43 for 115), with 11 home runs during the regular season. And in just their second season at the Division I level, Le Moyne went 10-2, and won the Eastern Coast Athletic Conference Upstate Championship.
This marked Le Moyne’s first Division I postseason appearance when they then traveled to New Britain, Conn., to play in the ECAC Division I tournament. They entered the tournament as the fifth seed and the first New York College to make it into the Division I NCAA playoffs since Syracuse in 1963.
Not expected to compete at this level of play, Le Moyne swept all four games of the tournament and became the first fifth seeded team ever to win the ECAC championship.
Reporters at the time compared this feat to that of the Siena College basketball teams upset of Stanford just a few months earlier in the 1989 NCAA basketball tournament.
Le Moyne then moved on to the Northeast Regional tournament in Waterbury, Connecticut, with the winner earning one of eight berths in the Division I College World Series in Omaha Nebraska.
It was a double-elimination tournament that found them competing against national powerhouses that included the University of Pennsylvania (Penn State), Illinois, Arkansas and Arizona State. In the first game, they upset 10th-ranked Arkansas by a score of 7-5. Marshall went 3-for-5 and scored a run. The next day they were shut out by Illinois by a score of 7-0.
Despite being on the brink of elimination, the next two days would go down as the greatest two days in Le Moyne College baseball history and see them become the toast of ESPN and major newspapers across the country.
In Game 3, they faced Penn State and were down by a score of 13-0 with 2 outs in the bottom of the fifth inning when the game was postponed due to rain. Even though the game appeared to be out of hand, NCAA rules do not allow tournament games to be ended due to rain, and must be finished. So the following day, both teams returned to the field to finish the remaining four innings.
As play resumed, Penn State scored another run to push the lead to 14-0 after five complete innings.
What happened next would be chronicled in newspapers across the country. In the sixth inning, Marshall homered to start a rally that would see Le Moyne score 16 runs in the next three innings. Marshall also homered a second time and the score was tied at 16-16 after nine innings.
Le Moyne would end up winning in twelve innings by a score of 18-16, to advance to the fourth game of the tournament just four hours later.
This time their opponent was the fifth-ranked Arizona Sun Devils. With Le Moyne down by a score of 2-1 in the sixth inning, Marshall hit a two-run home run to put them ahead and ultimately upset another top ranked team to move onto the finals with a final score of 4-2.
Marshall was 3-for-7 at the plate, and his famous home run can be viewed by going to www.youtube.com and searching for “1989 D1 Northeast Regional: Randy Marshalls 2-run bomb puts Le Moyne up for good.”
The team celebrated that night as they watched the highlight clips from both games recapitulated on ESPN, while the commentator marveled at what was considered to be the greatest comeback in the history of NCAA baseball tournament play.
The following day Le Moyne then moved onto the finals for a second game against Arkansas. Marshall once again cracked three hits, but their Cinderella run came to and end when they left a runner on second to end the game on the losing end of a 6-5 score.
Marshall batted .412 for the Regional Series, with 3 home runs, a .824 slugging percentage, and was named to the All-NCAA Tournament Team. Le Moyne ended the season 28-7, falling just one run short of making the 43rd College World Series. When the smoke settled after the 1989 season, Le Moyne was ranked #17 in the country for all Division I programs.
At the conclusion of his junior season, Marshall was invited to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League that summer for the Chatham Athletics (now Anglers) in Chatham Massachusetts.
While in Chatham awaiting the season to start, he knew his name was up for consideration by several Major League teams for the 1989 MLB June Amateur Draft, as he had received correspondence from the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox.
The Rangers struck first, picking him in the ninth round, with their eighth overall pick in the draft (they had lost second-round draft pick due to their signing of Free Agent Nolan Ryan in December 1988). Marshall’s Father (Randy Sr.) received the call from the Texas Rangers informing him that his son had been chosen by their club in the draft. He then called Randy in Chatham to tell him.
Randy promptly left Chatham and went to Logan Airport in Boston to meet Texas Rangers representatives Bryan Lambe (regional scout) and Omar Minaya (scout at the time and now the current Special Assistant to the General Manager of the New York Mets). Marshall and the two scouts negotiated for approximately two hours and came to an agreement on a contract that included a $42,000 signing bonus, which was the fair market value for a 9th Round Pick in 1989.
In 2019, the Texas Rangers ninth-round pick (pitcher Zak Kent out of Virginia Military) received a bonus of $140,000. After reaching the agreement, the two Texas Rangers representatives told him his job was now to hit home runs. And at the age of 21, Marshall had fulfilled his life-long dream of being chosen to play professional baseball.
His mom (Kathy Marshall of Mayfield) took the signing bonus, let him buy a Nissan Sentra from Herba Motors for $5,600, and put the rest into savings for when he may need it in the future.
According to Randy, “My mother is very smart, as that money ended up being used for the down payment on the house I purchased a few years later.”
Upon signing his first professional contract, Marshall left the Chatham Athletics and reported to the Butte Copper Kings (Butte Montana) that competed in the Pioneer League.
There, he was teammates of Clifton Park Native (1986 Shenendehowa High School graduate) Dan Peltier. Also playing in the Pioneer League that season (with the Billings Mustangs) was future Baseball Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman.
Hoffman was a shortstop prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization and still two years away from throwing his first pitch as a professional.
Marshall fondly recalls a game in Billings against Hoffman and how two got to know one another.
“At a game in Billings our pitcher hit one of their players. A bench clearing brawl broke out and as the first baseman I ended up in the mix,” Marshall said.
After the game, a few players from our team and few players from the Mustangs got together for a beer to show there were no hard feelings. Among the group was Hoffman, and we all laughed about what had happened during the game.”
Hoffman had a great arm, but could not hit very well. He was converted to a pitcher two years later and enjoyed an 18 year big league career as a reliever and recorded 601 saves (MLB All-Time record from 2010 until Mariano Rivera broke it in 2011). Marshall had a solid rookie season with Butte, batting .267 with 3 home runs, 13 doubles, 1 triple, 2 stolen bases and a .981 fielding percentage over 56 games at the first base position.
His 1989 performance earned him a promotion to the Gastonia Rangers (Gastonia N.C.) of the South Atlantic League for the 1990 season. In 122 games, he batted .249, with 12 home runs, 24 doubles, 2 triples, 6 stolen bases and a .989 fielding percentage.
That season, former World Series champion pitcher Tug McGraw (Father of Country Singer Tim McGraw) pitched one game for Gastonia.
It was for five innings and he had done a similar one-game stint the prior season as a favor to his long-time friend Roman Gabriel. Gabriel is a former NFL quarterback (Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles) who was the President of the Butte Copper Kings.
According to Marshall, “McGraw was very cordial with the entire team, and spent a tremendous amount of time talking pitching strategy with our pitching staff.”
Following the 1990 regular season, the Texas Rangers invited a select group of prospects to attend a two-week instructional league in Charlotte, Fla., at the Texas Rangers spring training facility to work on skills.
Included among these prospects was the Rangers highly regarded catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. Rodriguez had been drafted the year before Marshall and would make his Major League debut the following season. He enjoyed a 21 year career that would land him in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.
The 1991 campaign saw Marshall back with the Gastonia Rangers.
During Spring Training he was teammates with future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan for one game.
Marshall recalls, “Ryan was in need of innings to get in shape and came down to join our squad for two innings. One of the batters he faced was a brand new draft pick out of high school and he threw him three strikes. The first two were 95 mph fastballs down the middle, while the kid shook. And then as he released his third pitch (a big looping curve ball) he yelled to the batter ‘watch out’. The batter’s knees buckled, as he ducked out of the way seeing that it looked like it was heading right at him. However, the pitch broke right over the middle of the plate for the third strike. Ryan joked with the kid and signed his bat for him after the game.”
Through the first 77 Games with Gastonia, he had a .223 batting average, with 10 doubles, 1 triple, 35 RBI’s, 1 Stolen base and a .991 fielding percenage. Mid-season he received a promotion to the Charlotte Rangers (Port Charlotte Fla.) of the Florida State League.
With Charlotte, he appeared in another 40 games, compiling a .224 batting average, with 2 more home runs and a .990 fielding percentage.
Late in the season, while Charlotte was in Sarasota, Fla., to play the Sarasota White Sox (Chicago White Sox affiliate), Marshall had an encounter with one of the greatest athletes in modern day sports history — Bo Jackson. Jackson was a two sport star having played both Major League Baseball for the Kansas City Royals and in the National Football League for the Oakland Raiders.
Jackson had been rehabbing from what doctors told him was a career-ending hip injury eight months earlier in a NFL playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals. After the injury, the Royals had released him, and the White Sox signed him to a minor league contract. After eight months of physical therapy, the White Sox scheduled two rehabilitation games for him with the A level Sarasota White Sox and then four more games with the Birmingham Barons in the AA Southern League.
In the first game, with Marshall at first base, Jackson went 1-for-3 and then both teams took a lunch break before starting the second game of the doubleheader. The Sarasota club put on a banquet in Bo’s honor in the White Sox clubhouse.
When Jackson learned that the other team was not getting the same treatment, he personally paid for the caterer to bring the same buffet over to the Rangers locker room. In Jackson’s first at-bat in the second game, he singled to reach first base. While holding Jackson at first base, Marshall thanked him for lunch. Jackson replied “don’t worry about it, you all owe me $6.50.”
After that series and four more rehabilitation games at the AA level, Jackson was promoted back up to the Major Leagues with the Chicago White Sox for the rest of the season.
Randy retired from baseball after the 1991 season and relocated to Florida, where he took a position with PepsiCo Incorporated.
Over the last 29 years, he has worked his way up to the position of supply chain analyst for PepsiCo, and travels the country working with their distribution centers on improving their shipping efficiencies. Today, Randy resides in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with his wife Nancy, whom he married in 1995.
In 2014, Randy and the entire 1989 Le Moyne baseball team were inducted into the Le Moyne College Athletics Hall of Fame.
Marshall has been nominated for induction into the Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame. Inductions are tentatively scheduled to take place May 31, as part of the Annual Vintage Baseball Game to be played at Parkhurst Field in Gloversville.
Marshall also is scheduled to play in the game. Also being inducted that day will be former professional baseball players Bebe Garguilo, Joe Kobuskie, Frank Ricco, Don Shoblom, and the Undefeated 1951 Gloversville High School baseball team.
The event will be open to the public.
For more information about the inductions and Vintage Game, visit www.parkhurstfield.org.
A special ‘thank you’ to Randy Marshall Sr. and Ginny Dougan of Butte, Mont., for their research assistance in writing this story.
Mike Hauser is the founder of the Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame in Gloversville. If you have story ideas, old articles/photos or would like to nominate someone for the HOF, he can be reached through the organizations website at www.fchof.com, email; firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-725-5565.