Today is a very sad day. The
passing of Marshall brings me back to the birth of Newport Jai
Alai. I have vivid memories of Marshall (sneaking into the fronton
at about 15 years old) and his fascination with the players and
Jai Alai. Hardly a performance went by that you did not see the
Johnson Family at Newport Jai Alai. Ann Marie and Ross, Marshall,
Bruce, Paul, Joanne, and Susie were devout regulars sitting in
the audience. What a wonderful family, and at the top of my list
for their love of the sport.
Marshall and Bruce joined the Amateur League. I remember the outrageous prices that the company used to charge amateurs for used cestas. Back then it was a lot of money for young kids to come up with. The company was giving the players $25 to $30 for the used cestas and selling them in the gift shop for big bucks. Some players occasionally would give away a cesta or two. When they found out that the company was making such a profit on them, some sold them direct to the amateurs for what the company would have given them. I remember getting some for Marshall, Bruce and some of their friends. Little did I dream at the time that a star was to be born in Newport.
What style and power Marshall had on the court. That kid played his heart out. He always gave the audience their moneys worth. He was so good and dependable that his payoffs were comparable to the great Saez. His father, Ross, also worked at Jai Alai. He was so proud of his family. Everyone new Marshall and Bruce Johnson., the brothers that played Jai Alai.
Of course Newport Jai Alai screwed up and told him he was too fat. Fat ? That was a big body of power. They let him go and he went on to play in Florida. And did he play! He showed them all. Then the big guy turned to mush when he met, fell in love with and married the love of his life, Karen. He picked a good one. They had a daughter, Trish.
I could go on and on about Marshall. I am heartbroken for him and his family. We have all suffered by this loss. The entire Jai Alai community will remember Marshall. I will always remember his smile and thoughtfulness. Please keep his family in your prayers. We all have our own good memories when it comes to Marshall Johnson.