19 December 2014

on the road with mike morgan

mike morgan pitched for 12 different teams in 13 different stops (he double dipped with the cubs) over the course of 22 big league seasons.  those 12 different uniforms morgan wore were a record until octavio dotel made it to 13 in 2012.

morgan began his career as the 4th overall pick in 1978, and he was rushed to the majors less than two weeks later by a's owner charlie finley who obviously wasn't paying attention when the rangers made the same mistake with david clyde earlier in the decade.  morgan pitched a complete game in his big league debut as an 18-year old, but took the loss.  he lost his other two starts that season, and was 2-10 for the a's in 1979.  so, by the time this 1980 topps future stars card featuring morgan
was released, he was 2-13 as a major league pitcher, and he had also pitched in his last big league game for the franchise.  as an aside, kirk gibson was taken by the tigers with the 15th pick in that draft, and cal ripken jr was taken with the 22nd pick of the 2nd round.  i point this out not to disparage mike morgan, as he had a decent big league career, but rather to note that the team that drafted ahead of the orioles in the second round was the dodgers, who passed on ripken (then a third baseman) to take a different high school shortstop named clay smith.

anyway, morgan spent all of 1980 in the minors, and was traded to the yankees following the conclusion of the season.  he made it back to the majors in 1982, going 7-11 for the bronx bombers in 23 starts and 7 relief appearances.  he was traded to the blue jays after the season ended (with fred mcgriff!), but we were still treated to this 1983 fleer card showing him in yankee apparel.
topps also had him as a yankee in their 1983 set, but included him as a blue jay in the 1983 traded set
with the jays in '83, morgan was 0-3.  he pitched in 16 games, 4 of which were starts.  he spent all of 1984 back in the minors, and was taken by the mariners in the rule v draft prior to the 1985 season.  morgan took his 9-27 career record to seattle, where he made 2 starts (he was 1-1 in those starts) in 1985 before becoming a fixture in the rotation for both the 1986 and 1987 seasons.  he lost 17 games in both of those campaigns, however, leading the league in that category in 1986.  still, he won 11 and 12 games, respectively, kept his era below 5.00, and threw his first 3 career shutouts with the m's.  morgan was still a mariner on his 1988 donruss card
even though he was traded to the orioles in december of '87.  they got things updated in the 1988 donruss baseball's best set (also known as the halloween set)
morgan spent just that one season with the orioles, going 1-6 in 22 games, 10 of which were starts.  he had a cumulative record of 34-68 and had pitched for 5 different teams when dodger gm fred claire traded mike devereaux to the orioles in march of 1989 to acquire the 29-year old morgan.

the dodgers used morgan primarily as a starter to begin the 1989 season, and he responded nicely to his first taste of national league play.  morgan was 6-8 with a 1.79 era at the all-star break, but lost his first three starts of the second half with his era jumping to 2.61, and so was sent to the bullpen for the remainder of the season.  he finished with a record of 8-11 and a (by far) career best 2.53 era.  here's his 1990 upper deck card, featuring him dealing in dodger stadium.
over the next two seasons, the dodgers used morgan almost exclusively as a starter (he had one relief appearance against 66 starts in that span).  morgan was 11-15 in 1990, leading the league with 4 shutouts, and posted the first winning record of his career in 1991, going 14-10 with a 2.78 era and an all-star berth to boot.  morgan got to pitch the 9th inning of the midsummer classic, retiring hall of famers kirby puckett, carlton fisk (by strikeout), and roberto alomar in order.  he was also the national league player of the week for the last week in june, thanks to two complete game victories.  as a dodger, morgan was 33-36 with an era just over 3.00, and he decided to sign with the cubs as a free agent.

morgan went on to have one of his best seasons in 1992, going 16-8 with a 2.55 era in 34 starts.  he pitched for the cubs for a total of 3-plus seasons before being traded to the cardinals in june of 1995.  here's his 1993 bowman card
as i mentioned above, morgan had two different stints with the cubbies. the first time around, he was 30-34 in 85 starts.  from there, he was 9-14 for the cardinals between june of 1995 and august of 1996 when he was released.  the reds took a chance on morgan for the last month of the '96 season, and he posted a 2.30 era in 5 starts for them, although he was just 2-3 in those games.  he stayed with cincy in 1997, going 9-12, and was signed by the twins for the 1998 season.  morgan was traded to the cubs during the 1998 season after pitching in 18 games (17 starts) for the twins in his first american league (non-interleague) action since joining the dodgers in 1989.  he was 4-2 for the twinkies, but 0-1 for the cubs down the stretch.  still, morgan got his first taste of postseason play with those 1998 cubs, pitching a perfect 1.1 innings over two appearances in the nlds against the braves.  from there, it was on to texas for the 1999 season where the 39-year old went 13-10 in 34 appearances, 25 of which were starts.

at this point in morgan's career, he was 134-180, having pitched for 11 teams, and his days of being primarily a starter were behind him.  he signed with the diamondbacks, his record breaking 12th team, for the 2000 season, and stayed with them through the 2002 campaign - the last of his career.  here's his 2001 topps card
because the diamondbacks used morgan primarily as a reliever, he pitched in more games (120) wearing their hideous uniforms than any other - the dodgers were second at 107.  he had a record of 7-6 with 5 saves for arizona, and also picked up a world series ring in 2001 (he threw 4.2 scoreless in the fall classic against the yankees, although he did allow an inherited run (turned out to be the winning run) to score in game 3).

so, there you have it.  mike morgan was 141-186 for 12 different teams.  he won more games (33) for the dodgers than any other team, and also had his lowest cumulative era (3.06) in dodger blue.  so, here's a signed 1991 donruss card that i picked up at the local monthly card show a couple of years ago.
it was signed during his fleeting tenure with the twins, which ended with that trade with the cubs.

i suppose i'll do one of these for dotel, since he spent all of a month or so with the dodgers.  stay tuned...

1 comment:

night owl said...

Possibly the guy who has appeared on the most different MLB teams on a baseball card: