Mike Marjama
Long Beach State

Former LBSU Dirtbag Mike Marjama Leaving Baseball Behind

Mike Marjama made his Major League Baseball debut less than a year ago, but the former Long Beach State Dirtbags catcher has decided to hang up his cleats and give back to a community that also shaped his life.

“I am more than an athlete,” Marjama wrote in his official retirement letter released via Twitter. “Having achieved more than I could have ever imagined in this game, I began to realize that my mission in life means more than a baseball career, earnings or success.”

Marjama, 28, told the Sacramento Bee last year that he struggled with an eating disorder as a wrestler at Granite Bay High School in Northern California. Now he is going to take a position as an ambassador with the National Eating Disorders Association to help those who are going through similar physical and mental difficulties.

“We’re very proud of him,” LBSU Dirtbags coach Troy Buckley said. “He’s been a warrior pretty much his whole life and beaten a lot of odds. He obviously feels very strongly about wanting to get assistance to other people who may be going through the same thing. It transcends baseball. I give him a lot of credit.”

Marjama, who is currently 6’2” and 205 pounds, got his weight down to 130 pounds as a high school wrestler, but he couldn’t put the weight back on after the season was over.

“I’ve always had this tenacious will,” Marjama told the Sacramento Bee. “When others would stop, I’d keep going, which was my best asset — it got me this far — but it was also my biggest downfall, a push to great extremes.”

After spending time with an in-care facility, Marjama was able to put the weight back on by his junior year while having to skip a season of baseball. He ended up going to Sacramento City College, where he was a two-time all-conference selection.

In his only season with the Dirtbags in 2011, Marjama started all 56 games at catcher and third base. He hit .290 with 13 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and eight stolen bases. Buckley said Marjama adjusted to NCAA Division I pitching faster than most junior college transfers, and that he loved Marjama’s versatility and competitiveness.

“He really cared,” Buckley said.

Marjama was a 23rd Round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in the 2011 MLB Draft. He joined the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2015, and moved quickly through the Rays’ system. Marjama represented the famous Durham Bulls as a starter for the International League in last year’s Triple-A All-Star Game.

In 2016, Marjama hid the fact that he had a Pulmonary Embolism after surgery on his leg in order to continue playing baseball. He revealed that, and other recent injuries, in his retirement letter as another reason for stepping away from the game.

“These injuries have prompted me to think about my mission in life and future goals,” Marjama wrote. “While I love competing and playing this game, I am ready to move on to a new chapter.”

Last August, Marjama was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Seattle Mariners. He was called up in September from Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers, and was also on the 2018 Opening Day roster for the Mariners.

In 523 minor league games over eight seasons, Marjama hit .273 with 42 home runs, 263 RBIs and a .731 OPS. He had six hits and a home run in 15 games with the Mariners.

“This has been the hardest decision of my life,” Marjama said. “Walking away from something you love is never easy.”

“We all eventually have to be in a servant type of role as a father, a husband or a coach,” Buckley said. “Whatever you end up doing, baseball is a fantastic vehicle to do a lot of great things.”

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.