Morgan reconnects in D-backs Fantasy Camp

Former big league pitcher loves being around baseball in any form

Morgan reconnects in D-backs Fantasy Camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- You could tell by the look on his face and the bounce in his step that Mike Morgan was right where he wanted to be Monday morning.

Dressed in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform, Morgan, who spent 22 years in the big leagues, was on the Salt River Field back fields telling stories and teaching baseball to the nearly 70 participants in the D-backs' 11th Annual Fantasy Camp.

"He can't wait to come here and be a part of this," said fellow camp instructor and D-backs assistant hitting coach Mark Grace. "Whether it's Major League camp, Minor League camp or Fantasy Camp, he just wants to be in uniform with a glove on, ready to throw. If you ask him right now, he will tell you he could still get guys out in the big leagues. Right now. He'll believe that until they put him 6 feet under."

Morgan, now 56, was selected fourth overall by Charlie Finley's Oakland A's in the 1978 Draft. Just 18 years old and fresh out of Valley High School in Las Vegas, Morgan bypassed the Minor Leagues and made his big league debut five days later. He threw a complete game, but lost, 3-0, to Scott McGregor and the Baltimore Orioles.

Between 1978 and 2002 he pitched for 12 different teams, spending the final three years of his career with the D-backs, and while he suffered injuries to other parts of his body, he never had an arm injury.

After the 2002 season ended, Morgan did not receive any offers to continue pitching, and he fell out of touch with former teammates until a chance encounter with D-backs personnel in Los Angeles four years ago.

That led to an invitation to the team's annual Alumni Game and an appearance at Fantasy Camp, and two years ago, the D-backs invited him to Spring Training to throw batting practice, where he would throw curveball after curveball for hitters to get used to seeing it again.

"I can still throw seven days a week," Morgan said. "I can still throw the hammer -- it's not 12-to-6 anymore, it's 12-to-3 -- four-seamers, two-seamers, sliders. I still get guys asking me to throw the hammer so they can see it out of my hand, and I always tell them, 'Just tell me where to meet you and I'll come throw to you.'"

Now living in Park City, Utah, Morgan works with youth leagues and high schoolers in the area as well as spending time with the Sons of Baseball Foundation, which helps bring the joy of baseball to the lives of children with disabilities or life-threatening medical conditions.

"I mean well," Morgan said. "I just want to help guys get better. It's not about Mike Morgan. It's about the young guys coming up. It's about helping people to get better. Out here at Fantasy Camp, it's about helping these guys enjoy their time."

Morgan would still like to do more with an organization, such as working with Minor League players, scouting or helping out during Spring Training.

"He needs baseball and baseball needs him," Grace said. "He's a guy that needs to be in the game, who wants to be in the game. And you know what? Baseball is better when it has guys like Mike Morgan in it."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.