The man who inspired this post. A right-hander whose longevity is based on his ability to get the job done, it feels like Mike Morgan played forever. In fact he played in four different decades which is quite an achievement itself.
While he never won an individual award from the league, he was a 1991 National League All-Star. He can proudly say he relieved Rob Dibble, as he struck out Carlton Fisk and induced ground outs from Kirby Puckett and Roberto Alomar. It should be noted that all three he retired are Hall of Fame inductees.
Oakland Athletics (1978-1979):
It was not long before Morgan saw his first taste of MLB action. Drafted in the June 1978 draft (which has some pretty solid players in the first round), the fourth overall pick made his debut on June 11, 1978 tossing a complete game loss against the Baltimore Orioles. He’d get shelled in his next two 1978 starts before heading off to the minors.
The 1979 season would start off rocky, but Morgan would right the ship. With his low strikeout totals, he was sent back to the minors, where he’d establish himself as a ground-ball pitcher.
New York Yankees (1982):
Morgan would join the Yankees in a trade for Fred Stanley. He’d show great improvement, going 7-11 in 23 starts for New York. Though it would not be long until he was wearing a new uniform.
Toronto Blue Jays (1983):
Part of a five player trade, including Fred McGriff, Morgan went to Canada. Morgan was used as a long reliever, getting the occasional start. Of his four starts, he went beyond the fourth inning only once.
Seattle Mariners (1985-1987):
The Mariners acquired Morgan through the Rule 5 draft. Given his rush to the big leagues and his early struggles, the Mariners were looking to take a chance. While he struggled in two April starts in 1985, the Mariners were patient with Morgan as he nursed an arm injury. He found his way back into the rotation by late April of 1986 and was consistent. He compiled a 24-35 record in 66 starts, with a 4.70 ERA.
Baltimore Orioles (1988):
Morgan was traded again to the struggling Orioles. An 0-5 start for Baltimore (who started the season with 21 consecutive losses) led to a demotion to Triple A. Following that, Morgan had a hard time getting appearances in Baltimore.
Los Angeles Dodgers (1989-1991):
In a trade for Mike Devereax, Morgan had some of his best seasons. This led to Morgan’s only All-Star appearance in 1991. His three seasons in L.A., Morgan put up a 33-36 record, along with getting a manageable ration of 154 walks to 318 strikeouts. He also had a glowing 3.06 ERA, with the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium helping him out.
Chicago Cubs (1992-1995, 1998):
The Cubs liked Morgan enough that they signed him as a free agent in 1992. It makes sense to have a ground-ball pitcher in a cramp hitters paradise like Wrigley. A 16-8 season in 1992 marked only the second time, Morgan had a winning season record in his MLB career. He also had a 2.55 ERA, including a 1.38 ERA at home. Morgan’s numbers slipped in 1993 and by June of 1995, he was traded to St. Louis.
In his second run with the Cubs, he went 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in five starts during the September stretch. That season, the Cubs got the Wild Card after winning a one-game playoff. Morgan only made two appearances in the 1998 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. He gave up no runs in 1.1 innings pitched in relief with a lone strikeout.
St. Louis Cardinals (1995-1996):
With Morgan showing promise with a 2-1 record and a 2.19 ERA in his first four starts with the Cubs, he was traded to St. Louis. His tenure with the Cardinals was up and down, finishing his time with 9-14 record and a 4.55 ERA in 35 starts.
Cincinnati Reds (1996-1997):
Morgan was released by St. Louis late in the 1996 season. A week after his released, the Reds picked him up. He gave Cincy a few solid performances in September to get a chance for the 1997 season. He had a hard time replicating his September success the next season, in which he would pitch over 150 innings for the last time in a single season.
Minnesota Twins (1998):
Released by Cincinnati, the Twins picked up Morgan during the off season. Morgan once again proved his knack for strong first impressions. In 17 starts he went 4-2 before being traded back to the Chicago Cubs.
Texas Rangers (1999):
Following a postseason run with Chicago in 1998, Morgan was once again a free agent. The Rangers, in sore need of pitching, took a flyer on Morgan. While his numbers in the launching pad of Texas were not great, he did get a good share of innings. This turned out to be a one year stint in Arlington.
Arizona Diamondbacks (2000-2002):
Morgan finished his career in Arizona. On a club being built into a pennant contender, Morgan was relegated to the bullpen. In his 40s, he pitched admirably, picking up 12 holds for the Diamondbacks.
He also won a World Series title when Arizona shocked the New York Yankees in 2001. He made eight appearances in the 2001 postseason, securing two holds to his credit.