homepage logo

Former MLB pitcher Morgan’s baseball knowledge rubbing off at Pleasant Grove

By Neil K. Warner - Daily Herald - | Aug 5, 2010
1 / 2
Former Major League Baseball pitcher, Mike Morgan served as the assistant coach for Pleasant Grove baseball this spring. He poses for a portrait at Ultimate Sports in Lindon, Monday, Aug. 3, 2010. PATRICK SMITH/Daily Herald
2 / 2
Former Major League Baseball pitcher, Mike Morgan, (left) instructs Caden Bancroft (cq), 11, or Orem at Ultimate Sports in Lindon, Monday, Aug. 3, 2010. PATRICK SMITH/Daily Herald

Mike Morgan pitched for a record 12 different Major League teams in his 22-year Major League Baseball career, so hooking up with a new team is nothing new to him.

If it were up to his 13th team, Morgan would have a lifetime contract. It’s not often that a high school gets a chance to have a professional with such credentials as a volunteer coach, but for the last two years Morgan has been helping Pleasant Grove High School’s pitching staff learn the three-fingered changeup and the two-seam fastball as well as how to respect the game.

“He’s awesome. He’s established a huge presence with our team. The cool thing is when he tell kids to do something he gets immediate respect. He had spent 22 years Big Leagues and has a World Series ring,” said Pleasant Grove coach Darrin Henry said. “I remember the first game he came to watch Calder (Bonnett) pitch and get to know some of the kids in the first inning, someone hit a foul ball in the dugout and it hit him and broke his leg. It was a crazy start to this whole deal. He’s been good. The kids love him. He’ll get rosin bags for our pitchers and gives double batting gloves to our catchers for catching a bullpen. He’s a very giving man.”

Morgan was Major League all-star. He pitched for the LA. Dodgers, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A’s just to name a few. He has a world series ring. He is now lives in Park City and divides his time between helping kids learn the craft of pitching and helping hunters got their ultimate trophy deer or elk.

Morgan owns World Championship Outfitters. Hunters from Utah and around the country choose to have Morgan as their guide. They get a chance to spend a few days with Morgan on a private hunt. All their necessities are provided for and they have the chance to hear some baseball stories around the campfire.

World Championship Outfitters has been so successful for Morgan that he wanted to give something back so this year he helped create the Robinson’s Transport Wounded Warrior Hunt, a hunt that is designed to benefit a member of the military service who has received a Purple Heart.

One person will be chosen to join Morgan on a dream hunt free of charge. It’s Morgan’s way of saying thanks for those who have served in the military.

Those interested in applying or helping to join the hunt as a sponsor can go to woundedwarroirhunt.com for more information.

When Morgan is not involved in helping hunters bag the biggest buck of their lives, he’s helping pitchers add to their repertoire by giving pitching lessons at Ultimate Sports in Lindon.

“There are a lot of people who can teach fundamentals of pitching, but to understand how to get guys out time and time again is something that most pitchers and pitching instructors don’t understand. Mike gets it. With 22 years in the Major Leagues, he has figured this out,” said Cade Scharrer, owner of Ultimate Sports. “To be able to learn from his experience is a once in a life time opportunity. Mike is very good with the athletes and I have seen improvement in all of the pitchers that he has work with. We are very lucky to have him in the valley.”

Those interested in getting lessons from Morgan can contact Ultimate Sports (801-796-1130) and they may wan to hurry because Morgan around for much longer. He has several Major League baseball teams talking to him about becoming their bullpen coach. He should know in a few weeks.

“I enjoy it. I’ve got kids 11-14 for 45 minutes per kid. Getting them on the bump, seeing the results and the smiles on their face. It keeps me busy six to seven hours a day and so I’m not out hitting golf balls in driving range,” Morgan said. “But my calling is in Major League Baseball, that’s what I do best. I put in my resume with all 32 teams, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Morgan’s chances of getting hired by a Major League team figure to be pretty good. He certainly knows plenty of people in baseball. He pitched from 1978-2002 for 12 different teams. He shares the Major League with Matt Stairs and Ron Villone for having played for the most number of teams.

It all started for Morgan when he was selected by the Oakland Athletics in 1978 as the fourth overall pick in the Major League Draft. It didn’t take Oakland long before the A’s wanted to see what they drafted.

In a move that is unheard of today, Morgan made his Major League debut a few days after he was drafted against Baltimore as a teenager without any minor league experience. Not even Stephen Strasburg went directly from San Diego State to the Washington Nationals.

“I gradated from high school and went on a senior trip. I got drafted and Charlie Finley (A’s owner) had me on an airplane to Oakland. Four or five days later I was starting against Baltimore,” Morgan said. “I got a standing ovation, and had my dad, my mom and my sister sitting behind the dugout. I was an amazing experience.”

Morgan did spend some time in the minor leagues, but in 1982 he resumed his Major League career with the New York Yankees. In 1983, he played for the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent the entire 1984 season in Toronto’s farm system before being chosen by the Seattle Mariners in the Rule 5 draft in December of that year. Morgan played for the Mariners from 1985-87. He spent the 1988 season with the Baltimore Orioles.

One of Morgan’s best seasons came in 1991, when he was pitching for the Dodgers (14-10) and was selected to play in the All-Star game.

In 1992, he was 16-8 with the Cubs. In 1995, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. His tour around the Major Leagues continued when he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1996. In 1998, he signed with the Minnesota Twins and was traded later that season to the Cubs. He was on the mound for Mark McGwire’s record-tying 61st home run.

In 2000, Morgan was 40 when he signed with his 12th and final team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The next season Morgan and the Diamondbacks won the World Series in seven games against the New York Yankees.

“It was overwhelming actually for a lot of us,” Morgan said. “There were only one two guys on our team who had a ring. (Mark) Grace, (Curt) Schilling, RJ (Randy Johnson) didn’t have a ring. Our whole team was kind of starving for a championship. When you think about it, future Hall-of-Famers, guys like Ernie Banks never even got a play in world series, let alone win one and to play in what will go down as one of greatest World Series of all time. It was incredible.”

Arizona won game 7 in the bottom of the ninth on a bloop single from Luis Gonzalez. Had Gonzalez not drove in the winning run, Morgan was told he would pitch in the 10th inning.

“Randy Johnson came in the eighth and pitched the ninth. He’d already thrown in game 5, an extra inning game,” Morgan said. “So I was set to pitch the 10th had Gonzo not got that hit. But what a world Series. Gonzo got the game-winning hit and R.J. got the win.”

In 2002, Morgan retired but not after he pitched in 597 games. He had 411 starts. His career record was 141-186 with a 4.23 earned run average, 1403 strikeouts and eight saves in 2,772 innings pitched

“That first start in 1978 (in Oakland) and the World Championship in 2001, were very special,” Morgan said when asked about his career highlights. “It was overwhelming way we won it.”

It was fitting way to cap off a career for Morgan who made himself a valuable asset to teams because he was durable and loved to pitch.

“I could have stayed with a couple teams. The Dodgers made nice offer, but I went with the Cubs and was later traded. Teams wanted me. I was a guy that took the ball every five days and came out of the bullpen,” Morgan said. “There was a market for me because I was a long man, or a short man. Have arm will travel.”

And so travel Mike Morgan does. It may be commuting from Park City to Pleasant Grove or it could be moving on to coach with a Major League Baseball organization.

As long as baseball is involved, Morgan will go. To Pleasant Grove or to the Big Leagues. It’s just what he does. He loves the game and travel never has been an obstacle.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)