Marv Olson was born on May 28, 1907, in Gayville, South Dakota. He attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, was a baseball star and was offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he declined, preferring to continue his studies. He also played basketball and football at Luther as well.

Marv played semipro ball, working at second base for the Stock Yards team of Sioux City. In September 1930, he signed with the Boston Red Sox. In professional baseball, he was an infielder, typically a second baseman in the earlier part of his 17-season career and a third baseman in the second half.

He joined the Red Sox for 1931 spring training at Pensacola, Florida. When the first cut-down occurred, in March, he was farmed out to Buffalo (International League), but he was called up to the Red Sox in September and appeared in 15 games in all, collecting 10 hits in 53 at-bats for a .189 BA.

The Red Sox needed a second baseman for 1932 and Marv got the job, appearing in 115 games, pretty regularly from May  on. He hit .248 and scored 58 runs, but he committed 28 errors. Of course, this is with the perennially last-place Red Sox

He spent the winter hunting wolves and coyotes along the Missouri River near his home and was the last one to sign a contract for 1933. He appeared in only three April games, his last in the big leagues. In May, the Red Sox traded him to the Newark Bears.

Marv was dealt to Baltimore in November 1933 and then made his way on to Buffalo in 1934. He played all of 1935 through 1938 for Buffalo, though his batting average declined each year one to the next. In early April 1939, he was purchased by the Chattanooga Lookouts and played four-plus seasons for the Lookouts. In August 1941 he took over as their manager.

Taking on the additional responsibilities saw him play fewer games in 1942. He managed the Lookouts for three years, through 1943. He was with the team in 1944, but he had badly injured his leg. In 1945 he signed with Syracuse in April, his last full year as a player. Beginning in 1946 and through 1949, he was manager of the Class-D PONY League team in Jamestown, New York.

For many years after, he scouted for both the Kansas City Athletics (1957-1961) and the Minnesota Twins (1962-1986) before retiring in 1986. 

In 1975 Marv Olson was inducted into the Luther College Athletic Hall of Fame and passed away at age 90, on February 5, 1998, in Tyndall, South Dakota.