Friday, September 16, 2011

#651 - John Morlan

Card fact: This is John Morlan's only Topps card.

What I thought about this card then: I never saw it. No clue who John Morlan was until completing the set in 2004.

What I think about this card now: I give my 9-year-old self a lot of flack for thinking players on cards were a lot older than they actually were. But when I saw this card for the first time, I was a full-grown adult in my 30s, and I thought the 27-year-old Morlan on this card appeared to be in his 50s.

Other stuff: Morlan was signed by the Pirates as an outfielder. But he converted to pitching in the minors. He reported late to the minor leagues each of his first four seasons because he was an elementary school teacher and had to wait until school let out for the summer before he played baseball.

His only two years in the major leagues were 1973 and 1974. He pitched in just 10 games in '73 but was utilized quite a bit by the N.L. East champions in '74 with 39 relief appearances.

Morlan underwent elbow surgery after the 1974 season and didn't play in the majors after that. He pitched for  Pirates minor league teams until 1977.

Back facts: If Morlan's first year of pro ball was in '73, then what was he doing in 1971 and '72 for Monroe, Niagara Falls and Salem? Those weren't American Legion teams.

Other blog stuff: A happy 56th birthday to Robin Yount. Yup, the only teenager featured in this set (batboys excluded) is 56 today.


Play at the Plate said...

I remember being excited when school was out for summer because it meant it was time for baseball. Of course, I was 10.

Walt Wilmot still holds the record with 6 walks in a 9 inning game (tied with Jimmie Foxx).

MCT said...

The text on the back of the card actually says 1973 was his first "full" year of pro ball. I think they mean it was the first year he didn't report late due to needing to wait for his schoolteacher job to let out for the summer.

Moylan began his pro career in 1969, but there are no stats for 1969 and 1970 on the back of this card because he was a position player in those years, then converted to pitching in '71. So his first four pro seasons -- the years that he reported late -- were apparently 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972.

Matt Runyon said...

Imagine having a pro baseball pitcher as your teacher. That would have been cool! Hopefully he was a good one.

Douglas said...

I have a 1974 who's who in baseball at my desk. This is what is says about Morlan's career prior to being a picture: Played outfield 1969-70 with Genava (NY-Pa) in 1969 (.220 avg); Salem (Carolina) in 1969 (.111) and Gastonia (w. carol) in 1970 (.222)

That's the extent of it. I have some WWB with complete batting stats for a position player turned pitcher. I have another WWB 94 that shows Trevor Hoffman's career as a infielder.