Brandon Marsh plays with wet hair, barks like a dog, is huge in Japan, and is loved by the Phillies
Finally, the Phillies have a center fielder who makes it look easy. But Marsh has provided more than just a glove.
Brandon Marsh left the dugout Tuesday night, barking like a dog as he jogged toward the rest of the Phillies who had already been introduced before South Philadelphia’s first World Series game since 2009.
“Y’all can hear that,” Marsh said.
The Phillies acquired Marsh from the Los Angeles Angels at the Aug. 2 trade deadline to provide defensive stability in center field, a position that has caused too much trouble for too long. Finally, the Phillies have a center fielder who makes it look easy. But Marsh has provided more than just a glove.
He plays with a wet head of shoulder-length hair, has a beard that seems more fitted for a desert island than a ballpark, barks like a dog, and is huge in Japan. He homered Tuesday in the second inning of a 7-0 win over the Astros that put the Phillies just two wins away from a World Series title, proving that he has some bite with that bark.
The surprising run that started in October and entered November this week is rooted in a clubhouse full of personalities. And the 24-year-old Marsh, the youngest player on the team and the youngest Phillie to ever homer in the World Series, wasted little time fitting in.
“I think when he came over here, he really got to be whoever Brandon Marsh is,” backup catcher Garrett Stubbs said. “I don’t know what he was like in other dugouts or other locker rooms, but here it feels like every single player, no matter who they are, gets to be themselves.”
Marsh soaks his hair before each game with two cups of water and then replenishes as needed. It’s become a signature look this postseason. The hair, Stubbs said, is a staple. And the secret is just water, Marsh said.
“It stays wet for about an inning, an inning-and-a-half,” Marsh said. “It matters how much running I’m doing in the outfield or on the bases. If I get on base and have to do a little bit of running, the wind will knock down the water a little bit and I’ll have to reapply. But bad nights, the 0-for-4s, I’ll have to do it a couple times on those nights.”
Marsh plans to trim the beard — which is the longest it’s ever been — after the World Series, but he hasn’t been clean-shaven in four or five years. He trimmed it once with a two-guard blade and didn’t like the way it felt. So now he just lets it grow and grow and grow.
“When I was growing up, I never had any facial hair or anything like that,” Marsh said. “All my buddies did and I was the little guy. I told myself the day I was able to grow it that I wouldn’t stop.”
Marsh was met at his locker Tuesday night by a horde of cameras. His home run was a moment in a night full of them. And they wanted to know how it felt. But a group of reporters from Japanese outlets have followed Marsh throughout the postseason.
The game is huge in Japan, but there aren’t any countrymen left playing. Marsh, who played 1½ seasons with the Angels alongside Shohei Ohtani, is the closest thing Japan has. The Japanese press have followed Marsh in each city the Phillies have played this postseason.
“He’s huge everywhere. He’s like a global icon,” Marsh said of Ohtani. “You spend a little time around Shohei and a couple other people might start to pay attention to you.”
A Japanese reporter reminded Marsh that Ohtani was likely watching the game that night back in Japan. Marsh looked into his camera and told him that Ohtani would have hit the home run another 400 feet. Another reporter asked Marsh if there was anything he wanted to say to his fans in Japan. Marsh asked him how to say “I love you” in Japanese. Marsh grew up in Georgia, but he seems to be huge in Japan.
“Ah, I’m just blessed to be here and thankful that I get to play the game,” Marsh said.
Third baseman Alec Bohm knew Marsh from their time as prospects in the Arizona Fall League. He already considered Marsh a friend before the Phillies acquired him, so he knew right away that he had the right personality to fit here. It must be hard, Bohm figured, for a young player to switch teams during the season and join a team chasing a playoff spot. Maybe even a little weird, Bohm said.
“But before too long, he felt right at home,” Bohm said. “Just a great dude on the field, great dude off the field.”
“He fit right in with us young guys and right in with the veterans,” shortstop Bryson Stott said. “Once he came here, all of us younger guys meshed right away and we’re hanging out off the field three days in. Stuff like that. He’s been incredible.”
And maybe it was the bark that helped. Stubbs said Marsh and utility player Nick Maton had been barking around the clubhouse since the start of the playoffs. The team likes to have fun, Stubbs said. So does the center fielder with wet hair. And there he was running onto the field Monday, barking through pregame introductions, and punching everyone’s hand as he passed them along the first-base line. Marsh fit right in.
“Barking, it’s an absolute joke,” Stubbs said. “But it brings a fun energy to the ballclub, keeps everything light. We’re in the World Series, a high-pressure situation. And we’re barking. It’s ridiculous.”