Sunday, January 17, 2010

#134 -- Carl Morton

I don't know why, but I always thought Carl looked sad and forlorn in this card. It's almost as if he's thinking, "It's really cool that we get to train here in West Palm Beach (see the palm tree next to the light pole in the background?), but when this is done then we have to go to Jarry Park in cold freaking Montreal and get our brains beat in." Or..." I signed with the Braves thinking I could someday play alongside Hank Aaron in the outfield. Then, moving to the mound, maybe I could be in the rotation with Niekro. Now......hello last place."

Carl didn't make it as a hitter in the minors, but he had a good arm, so they let him pitch and he took to it. He posted good numbers in A and AA for the Braves in 1967-68, so the Expos took him in the expansion draft. He started the season as their number 4 starter. He pitched great in his debut, allowing no runs and 6 hits in 9 innings, but Joe Niekro of the Cubs matched him and Carl took a no-decision (Cubs won in the 12th).

He started getting hit harder and by May 3 he was 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA, so the Expos sent him to their AAA team in Vancouver. The Pacific Coast League in those days was a deathtrap for pitcher stats with the ball flying all over the place in Salt Lake City, Denver, Albuquerque and the other high altitude stops around the league. Carl handled it very well, going 8-6 with a 3.52 ERA allowing only 118 hits in 133 innings.

In 1970, Carl was NL Rookie of the Year, winning 18 games for an Expo team that went 73-89. Unfortunately, he turned that around in 1971, going 10-18 and followed that up 7-13 in 1972. Then he was traded back to the Braves for Pat Jarvis. He finally got to be teammates with Hank Aaron for a couple of years and had three strong years in the Launching Pad, winning 15, 16 and 17 games.

In 1976 Carl signed a $100,000 contract with the Braves. However, when he went only 4-9, Ted Turner got rid of him and he found out his contract wasn't guaranteed (accoring to the Baseball Reference Bullpen). I thought everything was guaranteed in baseball, but I guess not.

Carl bounced around the minors for another couple of years before giving it up in 1979. He tried to stay in shape, but that didn't do him well, either. He dropped dead of a heart attack in his parent's driveway returning from a jog in 1983. Wow. I hear that 65,000 a year die during exercise. Maybe Carl's forlorn look on this card is just some kind of premonition.


  1. Balls really flew out of the park in the PCL! I just finished doing my write-up on Mr. Morton for my 1976 blog. Pretty much the same information. :)

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  3. Maybe Gene Mauch told him to shave his moustache or cut his hair off.