Nearly 70 years after his brief stint with the Cardinals, Eddie Morgan still was being linked with events related to the 2014 team.
On May 31, 2014, Oscar Taveras became the youngest Cardinals player to hit a home run in his debut game since Morgan did so on April 14, 1936. Each achieved the feat at age 21.
Taveras hit his home run in his second big-league at-bat. Boxscore
Morgan hit his on the first pitch he saw in the majors.
While the 2014 Cardinals see Taveras as having a long-term future with the franchise, the 1936 Cardinals saw Morgan as trade bait.
Even before Morgan began his big-league career with a home run, Dodgers manager Casey Stengel had interest in acquiring the rookie after seeing him in spring training games.
Good outfield group
The 1936 Cardinals opened the season with a stellar starting outfield of Joe Medwick in left, Terry Moore in center and Pepper Martin in right. They also had three rookie outfielders _ Lynn King, Lou Scoffic and Morgan _ on the Opening Day roster.
“One thing I don’t have to worry about is my outfield,” Cardinals manager Frankie Frisch said to The Sporting News. “I’ve really got three fine-looking kids in Lou Scoffic, Lynn King and Ed Morgan. The only difficult thing about the outfield situation will be to decide which one of the three we’ll send back to the minors. That’s how good they all are.”
Dizzy Dean, the Cardinals’ ace, got raked for nine runs in six innings in the season opener against the defending National League champion Cubs at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. With the Cubs ahead, 12-3, in the seventh, Frisch tabbed Morgan to make his big-league debut as a pinch-hitter for reliever Bill McGee.
A left-handed batter, Morgan swung at the first pitch he saw from starter Lon Warneke and yanked it over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. Boxscore
Soon after, Stengel and the Dodgers approached Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey about a proposed trade. The Cardinals wanted third baseman Joe Stripp. When Stengel asked for Morgan, Rickey declined and the talks ended without a deal.
Morgan, 5 feet 10, 160 pounds, appeared in eight games for the Cardinals, hitting .278 (5-for-18, with four singles and the home run). Unlikely to get much playing time with St. Louis, Morgan was sent to Class AA Columbus (Ohio) on May 9.
In his first at-bat for Columbus on May 10, Morgan hit a home run off Milwaukee’s Joe Heving.
Let’s make a deal
By July, the Cardinals were seeking pitching. The Dodgers still wanted Morgan. When the Dodgers offered George Earnshaw, 36, a right-hander in his last big-league season, the Cardinals accepted, with both clubs agreeing that Morgan would report to the Dodgers after the conclusion of the Columbus season.
In reporting the trade, The Sporting News called Morgan a “hard-hitting farmhand” and “a left-handed pull hitter of the type the Dodgers need to caress that short right-field wall at Ebbets Field.”
Throughout the summer, Stengel spoke enthusiastically about his plans to play Morgan in September games with the Dodgers, who were out of contention and heading for a seventh-place finish.
Morgan hit .299 in 118 games for Columbus. But, just before the minor-league season ended, he fractured a bone in his lower leg, preventing him from joining the Dodgers in September.
After the 1936 season, Stengel was replaced as manager by Burleigh Grimes, the former Cardinals spitball pitcher. Grimes had managed Morgan with the 1935 Bloomington (Ill.) Bloomers. Morgan had batted .347 in 112 games for that Cardinals Class B minor-league club.
Expectations were for Morgan to compete for a starting outfield job with the 1937 Dodgers. But he hit .188 in 39 games for them and was returned to the minors in July. He never played in the big leagues again. His lone major-league home run was the one he hit in his first at-bat.
Morgan played in the minor leagues until 1950. In 17 minor-league seasons, he had a .313 batting average and hit 172 home runs.
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