I never knew Marshall personally
but I did watch him play many times over the years when he played
for Tampa Jai-alai.
I was there opening night when Marshall first began playing at Tampa jai-alai.
I will never forget Marshall and his inspired play on the court. He was a stocky backcourter but he was also a very quick backcourter for his size. Maybe the quickest backcourter for his size in the game.
In my mind's eye, I can still see Marshall playing on the court. I vividly recall him in singles games when he would he would be moving quickly to his right and his cesta would almost be touching the floor as he scooped a short-hop from his opponent. He reminded me of a crab on wheels!
When Marshall left the Tampa roster to join the Palm Beach roster, it was a big disappointment for me.
A friend of his who once worked as a teller at Fort Pierce Jai-alai and who, I believe, later became a player himself, told me that Marshall joined the Palm Beach roster so that he could play with the best. And the best, at that time, was Bolivar.
When I heard that Marshall had cancer and had to retire, it was a sad thing to hear. But he overcame this first bout of cancer and, some years later, returned to fight another day when he joined the Fort Pierce roster.
One day I drove to Fort Pierce to watch some jai-alai. I did not know that Marshall had come out of retirement to once again play. It was with mixed emotions that I watched Marshall step onto the cancha and resume his career. He seemed to be much heavier than he was before and he did not move quickly. He also looked much older than his years. But Marshall did know where to position himself and he did play with a lot of heart. I had tears in my eyes that day.
Fans here on the message boards often talk about who the great players were.
It is often said that Joey was the greatest American frontcourter. That is certainly true. But Joey was also one of the greatest frontcourters of all time.
And that is how I view Marshall. Marshall was the greatest American backcourter to ever the play the game. And he was one of the greatest backcourters to ever play the game. He fought the cancha wars back when many of the greats were still playing. And he more than held his own.
Marshall will always be one of my three favorite backcourters. The other two are Felix and Laca II
Marshall. Please rest in peace.