Photo UK Athletics
When UK infielder Tyler Marshall touches his left knee, he feels scars that resulted from playing the game he loved since a young age. Those scars reflect months of pain and rehab, but if you look closer, you will see life lessons, friendships, opportunities, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Marshall, a native of Louisville, (KY), announced that due to difficulties from multiple knee injuries, now is the time to step away from the game he loves.
Baseball started at a very young age for Marshall and like most children, it began with a ball and a bat in the backyard. His earliest memory of the game that gave so much to him was pretending to be Ken Griffey Jr. while playing HR Derby with his father. Those early memories provided Marshall the opportunity to fall in love with the game of baseball, which opened many doors over twenty-two years.
“Baseball has been my life since I was a little kid. I fell in love with it at such a young age and it’s all I’ve done my whole life,” said Marshall. “I’ve made life long friends and created relationships that I consider family to me.”
Being a Kentucky native, playing in Lexington was a dream come true for Marshall, but playing through pain was something he dealt with often during his career. A few years back, he suffered a severe left knee injury, leading to surgery and a long road back to the diamond. The injury required 12 months of rehab, which forced him to miss an entire year of baseball. During his sophomore year of high school, Marshall also required surgery to repair a fracture to his upper jaw line after being struck by a ball during practice. This past season, Marshall dealt with pain from a meniscus tear in his previously injured left knee.
“I kept re-aggravating it throughout the fall and season, never really allowing it to heal all the way,” Marshall said. “Just a continuous pain to deal with, but with our training staff, I was able to stay in playing shape.”
Injuries may have prematurely ended his career, but Marshall feels like now is the best time to step away. Realizing his career was near an end, Marshall gave his friends, family, teammates, coaches, and fans everything he had in his final season.
“I knew about midway through the season this would be it,” said Marshall. I told my family, closest friends, and a few guys on the team where I was at and how I felt. They all backed me and I just wanted to make the most out of this season and leave it all out there.”
He did just that, posting a career high in all statistical categories. Marshall hit .293 with 1 (HR), 29 (RBI), 29 (BB’s) and a .425 (OBP). Being a part of the most special team in UK history is something he will always remember and his favorite memory was an easy choice for Marshall.
“Sprinting across that field toward Evan White and jumping straight into each other basically in shock winning that NCAA Regional,” said Marshall. “Getting to celebrate on our home field with that group of guys was so special, I really can’t put it into words. That was the first dogpile I’ve ever gotten to be a part of and my oh my did it feel good.”
Marshall is not sure where life after baseball will take him. He has given coaching some thought but wants to be positively sure that’s what he wants to do, before committing to something so time-consuming. Regardless of what he decides to do, he can look back on his baseball career and be thankful for many things he learned along the way.
“The great thing about sports and baseball in particular for me is that it teaches you so much more than just on-field experiences,” said Marshall. “I can tell you that this game taught me discipline, it taught me how to deal with failing. It is amazing how much of an impact you can have on others lives or someone can have on yours being a part of a team.”
Marshall gave every ounce of effort he had to the University of Kentucky. He hopes that fans will remember him as a guy who poured his heart and soul into the University and that he did things the right way. Leaving a positive impact on a place that means so much to him was very important.
Dealing with the decision to step away from the game has been difficult, but Marshall has no regrets from his career and the impact baseball made on his life.
“Giving up the game you’ve played since the day you can remember is always difficult,” said Marshall. “Baseball has given me so much opportunity in my life and taught me so many life lessons, but there comes a time when you know.”
Marshall will do well with the next chapter of his life, whether that includes baseball or not. Baseball provided him with learning experiences and opportunities to achieve success, but most of all it helped prepare him for what he will face off the field. Adversity will strike everyone’s life at some point and Marshall will be prepared to face it head on, just like he did so many times throughout his career.
“I’m very confident with where my career took me and I can look back and hold my head high knowing I fulfilled my dream of being a Kentucky Wildcat.”