By Austin Bishop / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —
Surviving and being successful in the world of business takes a little something extra. Monte Marshall says that little something extra is something he began to learn on the youth league baseball diamonds of Meridian.
Marshall, now 39-years-old and working in insurance with Mass Mutual in Birmingham, took the things he learned as a boy with a glove and mixed them with determination and athletic ability to become one of the best baseball players in Birmingham Southern College history.
In November of 2011 Marshall, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers after his senior season in college, was inducted into the Birmingham Southern Sports Hall of Fame.
"It was a great feeling," Marshall said of being inducted into the school's sports HoF. "There a lot of great players who have come through Birmingham Southern and gotten their picture on the wall."
He said it was particularly special that it was UAB head coach Brian Shoop, who coached Marshall while he was at BSC, that introduced him at his induction. "Coach Shoop did a lot for me, and not just coaching baseball," Marshall said. "He
taught me a lot."
Marshall, a graduate of Meridian High School, says what he learned through his career from youth league to high school to college and on to one season of minor league baseball has helped keep focused while tackling the business world and life in general.
"The business world is tough and some competitiveness is good," Marshall said. "But, it's being competitive in a good way, where if you beat me, great. Let's strap it on and let's go again.
"It also good to understand teamwork as well, If you have a team of people working together for a common goal it increases your chance to be successful," he said.
Marshall, the son of Doug and Mona Marshall of Meridian, says he still has time for baseball, but most of his non-working hours are spent with his wife Emily and daughter Cheryl Kaye.
"I don't really fish or hunt," Marshall said. "My hobbies are all centered round watching my daughter and the excess is made up by coaching youth league baseball. I kind of what I can around my daughter's dance schedule."
Marshall was a speedy, slick-fielding middle infielder coming out of high school and found a home at BSC, which was at that time an NAIA power.
It was a decision Marshall made early in his career that helped Marshall become a professional baseball prospect.
After hitting .327 as a freshman playing the outfield and some reserve infield, Marshall decided he needed to do something to put some spark in his offense and help himself get on base more often so he could take advantage of his speed. So, against the advice of some of his coaches, Marshall decided to try switch-hitting.
It was at that time that coach Shoop taught him a critical lesson about perseverance.
"It was really terrible for the whole year," Marshall said. "If you take away my infield hits and bunt hits I really didn't have much success." Marshall hit .293 that season, getting 52 starts mostly at second base.
"I almost became a non-factor and a non-player," Marshall said. "Coach Shoop was great through the whole thing. When I went to him and told him I wanted to try switch-hitting he made me promise that if I was going to do that I could never change my mind. There were times I wanted to forget (switch-hitting) and bat right-handed but I had given him my word."
That turned out be a good move for both Shoop and Marshall.
Marshall hit .378 as a junior and led the team with 82 hits, while stealing 47 bases as the Panthers went 45-17 and played in the NAIA World Series. Marshall received Honorable Mention All-America honors that year and was named to the World Series All-Tournament team, hitting .429 in the Series.
After hitting .340 with 45 stolen bases and a team-leading 72 hits, Marshall was drafted in the 26th round by the Dodgers, playing one season of minor league ball.
He coached one year in the minors, before deciding to move on to the business world.
Marshall still ranks second all-time in runs scored at BSC with 197 and in stolen bases with 114. He also ranks second in games played with 232 and games started with 215, while his 262 career hits are the fourth best all-time at the school.
"God has certainly blessed me," Marshall said.