Saturday, September 4, 2010

Seventies Saturday: 1976 Topps Carl Morton

Today's subject, pitcher Carl Morton, was orginally signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1965 as a free-agent. Oddly, he wasn't signed as a pitcher- but as an outfielder. After spending the 1965 and 1966 seasons in the Braves minor league system, in which he showed some power at the plate (but not much discipline), Morton was converted to a pitcher prior to the 1967 season. Morton would go 23-14 in his first two seasons as a pitcher (in Single-A Kinston and AA Shreveport), with a 2.94 ERA, and 255 Strikeouts. After the 1968 season, Morton would be selected by the Montreal Expos in the expansion draft, and would appear in eight major league games during the 1969 season. Then, in 1970, Morton would take the N.L. by surprise- starting 37 games, and going 18-11 with a 3.60 ERA on his way to winning the 1970 N.L. Rookie of the Year Award and finishing ninth in the Cy Young Award voting. Morton would go on to pitch for the Expos during the 1971 and 1972 seasons, but would experience some serious control problems, walking 279 batters versus his 305 strikeouts. Montreal would trade Morton to Atlanta at the beginning of spring training in 1973 for pitcher Pat Jarvis.

The return to the Braves organization would see a resurrection of Morton's career. Over the course of the next three seasons, Morton would pitch in 114 games, going 48-38 with a 3.35 ERA. Morton would continue to struggle by putting runners on base, allowing almost 13 runners on base per 9-innings. 1976,the year of today's card, would be Morton's final season in the majors. He would appear in 26 games for the Braves, going 4-9 with a 4.17 ERA, and more walks (45) than strikeouts (42). After the 1976 season, Morton and four other players (along with cash) would be traded to the Texas Rangers for slugger Jeff Burroughs. Morton would pitch in AAA Oklahoma City (Phillies) during the 1977 season, but would then be done in baseball by spring training 1978.

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