But, like any good periodical, the blogosphere is nothing without loyal readers; without them, we'd simply be screaming into the void. There are a great many people who take in our thoughts, rants, countdowns, and celebrations without a blog of their own; but, that being said, they deserve just as much credit for making our community such a wonderful place. One of those famous readers goes by the screenname, Mr. Havercamp, and he is the man who provided the material for today's post.
You see, recently, Havercamp reached out to me, via e-mail, to let me know that he had a pair of cards from my "Most Wanted" list and he was willing to send them my way. I was ecstatic to finally make the acquaintance of the man AND find out he wanted to send me cards that I need in the very same correspondence. See what I mean about a great community?
So, without out any further ado, I present to you card number one:
While Frank Quilici may be a Chicago native, a quick background search on the former Big League skipper will show no connection between he and the Chicago National League Ballclub. Both his five-year MLB playing career and his four-year managerial stint were spent entirely with the Minnesota Twins franchise. So, you might be wondering, why would I, the dedicated Cubs fan diligently pursuing a complete collection of every man to ever suit up for the Wrigley Field natives, be in need of such a card? Please allow me to explain.
You see, while Frank is the main subject featured on this 1974 single, his coaching staff is given some space in the yellow bar between Quilichi's chin and the bottom border. Neither Ralph Howe nor Bob Rodgers have anything to due with the Cubs' franchise either; however, The fourth man on this card is the one that I was truly after:
Vern Morgan's playing career in the Major Leagues was spent exclusively with the Chicago Cubs, from 1954-55. During that time, Morgan appeared in 31 contests, overall, batting .225 in 77 PA's with four walks and just two extra base hits. In short, he wasn't much with the bat. On the opposite side of the ball, Vern manned third base four 17 games (16 starts) with six errors in 44 chances; again, not exactly setting the world on fire with his performance. Needless to say, Vern Morgan was not able to steal much playing time away from incumbent starter, "Handsome Ransom" Jackson, and nor was he a threatening option off of the bench.
With that in mind, Morgan was bused back to the bushes for good, after just seven contests in '55. the next year, 1956, Vernon was acquired by the Washington Senators organization and he would play for the franchise, up and down their minor league chain, for the next eight campaigns and without another cuppacoffee. The last three of those seasons were spent as a player/manager. By the time he finally hung up his spikes for good, the Senators had become the Twins - he continued to skipper clubs in their farm system through 1968.
Morgan during his brief audition with the "Lovable Losers."
It was at this point that Morgan finally made his way back up to the summit once again. In need of a first base coach, the Twinkies rewarded their loyal baseball soldier with a spot on the Major League coaching staff under manager Billy Martin. His work must have been respected by the players and the front office, as he would serve the team during three different managerial regimes, including Frank Quilici, with whom he shares that 1974 Topps single.
Sadly, by the time that card was printed, Vern Morgan's time in baseball was limited... as was his time on Earth. In September of 1975, the first base coach was pushed to the sidelines for good by advanced kidney disease and immediately received a transplant. Additionally, he had been undergoing treatment for a blood disease for the previous four years. Tragically, the new kidney did not help his situation and, in early November, Morgan passed away in his adoptive hometown of Minnesota. He was only 47.
|Image courtesy of the Trading Card Database|
Since his playing career at the game's highest level was so brief and, forgive my bluntness, unsuccessful, it's not surprising that he never had a card printed up by the bubblegum companies. Furthermore, seeing as coaches rarely sneak into such sets either, he never got his own Topps card.
Although, Morgan does appear solo on a pair of uncommon, team-issued postcard sets from during his coaching career and on a supremely rare, minor league card set from during his time working up the Cubs chain. This 1955 release honored the Cubs-affiliated Des Moines Bruins and came in packages of Old Homestead hot dogs. It shouldn't be a surprise then that these greasy, regional cards don't pop up very often and, when they do, come with a high price tag attached. Therefore, the 1974 Topps card that I was after is easily his most attainable cardboard option, even if he is only allotted a black & white, floating head-shot on a card that is split four ways.
When you have a goal as far-reaching as mine is, you just have to take what you can get!
Now, I did tell you that Mr. Havercamp sent me cards, as in plural. That being noted, I think I'm going to go ahead and split them across two posts, as this one is already getting a tad wordy. I don't to take up too much of your day... there are other blogs to read, after all!
Thank you for the Quilichi... errrr... Morgan card, Mr. Havercamp, for thinking of me when you came across it, and for the extremely kind words that you included on your corresponding note. I will be sending you a proper "appreciation PWE" in return in the near future. Here's to many more!
Also, thank you to all of the other mindful readers out there - those with blogs and without. Our little corner of the internet is a wonderful place because of your interest, attentiveness, and unbridled generosity. It's truly a community of which I'm honored to be a part of!
Yea... I know... the only way I could get sappier is if I were a maple tree.