It’s been a while since I’ve had any free time to post. We still scan and post our recent autograph successes on a daily basis, but with a new baby at home, it’s just hard to find time to post to our blog. I’m hoping that changes over the next couple of months.
I wanted to take a minute to share one of our most recent responses. This one comes courtesy of John Morlan who pitched for the 1973 and 1974 Pittsburgh Pirates.
As a two-sport star athlete in high school, Morlan was offered scholarships to several schools. Ohio State’s Woody Hayes recruited him to play football, but Morlan chose Ohio University where he would play baseball. He was drafted four times by three different baseball teams (1965: Reds, 1967: Pirates, 1968: Indians, 1969: Pirates), but wanted to complete college at the urging of his parents. After graduating with a teaching degree in 1969, John finally signed with the Pirates.
Morlan taught elementary school in the off-season and would report for spring training every February. He did this for four years before finally getting called up in mid-1973. John made his major league debut on July 20, 1973 against the San Diego Padres. John pitched 4.1 innings, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits while striking out 2. The Pirates won the game, but John didn’t get the decision.
We recently wrote to John and asked about some of his memories from his playing days:
During his time in the bigs, John faced 10 future Hall of Famers (Johnny Bench, Lou Brock, Joe Morgan, Hank Aaron, Dave Winfield, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, Tony Perez, Ron Santo, Mike Schmidt). The went a combined 6-33 off of him (.181 batting average). John commented on that.
“When I was pitching I didn’t know at the time that they would be hall of famers. Whenever I faced a hitter I considered them all big leaguers. You don’t get to the majors unless you have talent! I was fortunate enough to have talent.”
“My biggest thrill was beating Steve Carlton of the Phillies and facing the Big Red Machine (Bench, Morgan, Driessen, Rose, Perez and all the others) !”
We asked what he remembered most about walking into the big league clubhouse or onto the field for the first time :
“When I watched my first Big League game Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates was at 2nd base, Stargell in LF – Clemente in RF and the Yankees were in town.
I never though 12 years later I would be walking into the Pirates clubhose and there were those guys!
My first start in Spring Training those same guys were playing behind me! It seemed strange!”
John reflected on his injury and surgery following the 1974 season:
“I had elbow surgery. After the ’74 season (bone chips) I was never the same pitcher. My fastball wasn’t what it was before the surgery andthe curve ball did not have the bite. To play at that level you have to be near 100%”
Morlan played three more seasons in the minors (1975-1977) before calling it quits. Following his retirement, he went back to teaching where he taught physical education andcoached football and softball. John retired several years ago, but it appears he still stays active. Morlan ended he letter like this:
“Excuse the writing I’m in a golf cart on the course – you could say my gold isn’t a whole lot better than my writing!”
Full text of our correspondence. Click to enlarge.