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Magazine Reprint: Mark Marquess

Stanford fans all over the globe are focused on this exciting baseball team, who once again has achieved at the highest level. The man at the helm is Mark Marquess and we have an up-close look at the Cardinal skipper, which appeared in our April issue of the magazine. Enjoy this free look and <a href="https://www.grassy.com/citadel_publishing/stanford/">Subscribe Today</a>!

Originally published April 2003 (vol. 1, no. 9) in The Bootleg Magazine.  "Zeroing in on Nine" by Chad Goldberg

 

Tobin Swope has probably spent more time standing next to head coach Mark Marquess in the dugout than any other current player has. In the senior shortstop's first three years on The Farm, he had a grand total of six starts, so it's safe to say he has carefully observed the mannerisms and behavior of Stanford's veteran head coach. There has to have been one time when "Nine" (Marquess' nickname and uniform number) has just relaxed for a moment on the bench, right?

"It's always the same with coach Marquess, [he's] always going," said Swope.

Indeed, "Nine" has been pacing the first base dugout at Sunken Diamond for 27 years. When the green 29-year-old Mark Marquess was hired to coach the Cardinal in 1977, current Stanford Football head coach Buddy Teevens was under center, taking snaps at quarterback for the Dartmouth Big Green. Stanford Basketball's Mike Montgomery was holding the clipboard as an assistant coach at Montana.

"It was a big chance on [former Athletic Director Joe Ruetz'] part to do that," recalled Marquess.

A remarkable 12 College World Series appearances and two national titles later, it's fair to say that the chance Ruetz took worked out rather nicely for Stanford. Marquess inherited a very good baseball program and created a dynasty, establishing Stanford Baseball as one of the elite college baseball programs in America. With over 1,100 victories to his name, the coach has also placed himself among some of the legends in college baseball coaching history.

But he is only 56 years old. Rod Dedeaux at USC coached until he was 71. If Marquess coached into his 70s, he would likely have over 1,700 wins and would be far and away the leader in wins by a D-I baseball coach. But what do those milestones mean to Marquess?

"To be quite candid with you, nothing, at this stage," he proclaimed, sitting in his office, surrounded by the trophies and accolades from his CWS appearances as a coach (plus one as a player), the 10 Pac-10 titles in the last 20 years, and the gold medal performance as head coach of Team USA at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. "I don't think about it. I really don't."

Marquess' history at Stanford goes back a lot farther though than the first days he taped up scouting reports in the dugout as head coach. Marquess is a member of the elite group of players, such as John Elway, John Lynch, Chad Hutchinson, and Joe Borchard, who suited up for the Cardinal on the baseball field and on the gridiron. From 1967-1969, Marquess donned the number 9 as an All-American first baseman, hitting .404 in 1967, still the fifth highest single season batting average in Stanford history. Across the parking lot from Sunken Diamond, Marquess also played football for the Cardinal, as a quarterback, split end, defensive back and punt returner.

"I don't think there is any substitute for football for any athlete, whatever other sport you would play," he declared.

After a brief pro baseball career with the Chicago White Sox organization, Marquess returned to The Farm as an assistant under Ray Young for five years, and took over in 1977 as the head man. Since then, Marquess has had only one losing season (1993), when the Cardinal fell just one game below the .500 mark. More importantly, with Marquess at the helm, two new flagpoles had to be installed at Sunken to carry national championship flags.

In 1987, the Cardinal finished with a .757 winning percentage (53-17), winning the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history. Led by All-American pitcher Jack McDowell, who would later win a Cy Young Award with the Chicago White Sox, the Cardinal defeated Oklahoma State in the championship game. The 1987 championship run was highlighted by then freshman (later named the Series' MVP) Paul Carey's grand slam home run in the 10th inning against LSU, to lift the Cardinal to a 6-5 victory. Instead of being eliminated, the Cardinal moved on and beat Texas the next day to secure a place in the championship game. The Cardinal would repeat as champions in 1988.

"It's almost like it was our time," Marquess reminisced. "I have taken better teams to the CWS than those two teams. It's just a matter of the ball bouncing right."

In recent years, Marquess has taken four consecutive teams to Omaha, finishing no worse than fourth each time. In 2000, the Cardinal had their All-American Justin Wayne on the mound and led LSU 5-2 with only five outs to go. However, LSU came back to win 6-5, getting four runs off Wayne in the eighth and ninth innings. Bridesmaids for the first time in the program's history, the Cardinal faced a rebuilding year in 2001. Wayne (drafted #5 overall, now with the Florida Marlins), ace pitcher Jason Young, and Joe Borchard all departed for the pro ranks. Cardinal regulars Edmund Muth, John Gall, Craig Thompson, and Eric Bruntlett graduated. Marquess was left with only one position player who would start at the same spot in 2001 that he did in 2000 (Chris O'Riordan), and two other part-time starters from 2000 (Andy Topham and Arik Van Zandt). With no seniors, three freshman outfielders, and no returning starting pitchers, Marquess led perhaps the youngest team in Stanford history not only back to Omaha, but back to the national championship game.

"The most rewarding team I have ever had, the biggest surprise, was in 2001. That team just had no right to be in the championship game," he mused. Though the team lost to Miami, the 2001 Cardinal became only the fourth team in the history of Stanford Baseball to reach the championship game.

This year, Marquess faces a bit of a different challenge. While three All-Americans, junior Sam Fuld, junior Carlos Quentin, and senior Ryan Garko, return alongside senior pitchers Tim Cunningham and Ryan McCally and junior pitcher John Hudgins, the Cardinal is a youthful group. The inexperience of the team showed early, as Stanford was swept by Cal State Fullerton, the first time the team was swept since 1997. Marquess' attitude is part of the reason that rarely happens at Stanford.

"[Coach Marquess] is always yelling and cheering," explained starting pitcher McCally. "He is always all over you. After we win a big game, he will come out the next day and say, ‘what have you done for me lately?'" Swope's description of the head coach is very similar: "Doesn't matter what the score is, if we are down by eight runs or up by eight runs, he is getting on us to work hard."

Clearly, Marquess is a significant factor in Stanford's success as one of the premier college baseball programs in the country. However, as he would be quick to admit, he has had a lot of help. Associate head coach Dean Stotz has been there every step of the way as Marquess' assistant since 1977. Also in charge of recruiting, which Marquess says is the toughest part of the job, Stotz was named Baseball America's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000. Additionally, Marquess has been blessed with two great pitching coaches: Tom Dunton and current coach Tom Kunis.

Even with those great assistants, there is no doubt about who runs the show. But unlike other college head coaches, Marquess is not one to sit back and delegate responsibility during the week.

"My sophomore year when I was really struggling, it was coach Marquess that made me come out and work with him," catcher Garko recalled. "He is going to work for you. That means a lot to come from a head coach."

Marquess may have two titles and four straight CWS appearances under his belt, but he is perhaps the last man on earth to rest on his laurels. Every day of the season (and most of the off-season), he is in his office early, races up and down the halls of the Arrillaga Family Sports Center to refill his coffee, then returns to his office again to check the statistics for the next opponent.

On the way out the door of the baseball office, he passes by the trophy case, which contains the NCAA Championship trophies from 1987 and 1988. Every time, he flies right by the case without even a glance. "Nine" is too busy thinking about who is starting on Friday night.

Chad Goldberg is in his fourth year broadcasting Stanford Baseball on KZSU 90.1 FM.

Mark Marquess by the Numbers
(as of March 21, 2003)

Record

1107-540-5 (.672)

National Titles

2 (1987, 1988)

Postseason Record

95-43

College World Series Appearances

12

Pac-10 Titles

10

 Seasons with a Winning Record

26 (out of 27)

Record vs. Cal

107-53

Record vs. USC

91-72

 


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