Sunday, May 25, 2014

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Joe Morgan

One of the best parts of watching minor league baseball is seeing your favorite players graduate to the Majors and enjoy a successful stay and productive Major League career.  Luckily, the Durham Bulls have a long history of former players on Major League rosters and honestly it's hard to do a thread of posts on Collecting the Durham Bulls without mentioning some of the better Bulls to appear during the team's long run.  So, let's start with Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan.

Morgan was apart of championship teams in Cincinnati and Philadelphia during his long career, but made a stop over with the Durham Bulls in 1963 appearing in 95 games and batting over .300.  Later that season he debuted with the Houston Colt 45s, but had to wait until the 1965 season to see his first Major League trading card in the 1965 Topps set.


The card is a Rookie Stars card which means he is sharing his card with Sonny Jackson.  I know that collectors often complain when great players share rookie cards with other players, but Sonny Jackson was at least around for a fairly long time playing 12 seasons as a utility infielder for the Astros and Braves.  It's not Nolan Ryan and Jerry Koosman, but its also not Cal Ripken and Bob Bonner. I love that the card was made while the team was still the Colts and I also really dig the look of the 1965 cards. 

Collectors interested in finding a copy of a Morgan rookie have a wide variety of prices in spite of the fact that Morgan only has one rookie card.  Copies of the 1965 Topps Morgan rookie with rough edges, bent corners, creases and folds, and off centering can be found for as little as $10 depending on the amount of wear and tear. My copy was around $20 with it being off center top to bottom with slight rounding on the corners and a little browning, or discoloration around the edges. 

During his playing career Morgan had the normal run of baseball cards associated with a player from his generation. There is a good number of Topps base cards and cool oddballs of Joe Morgan throughout the years. Since Morgan retired the world of baseball cards has changed greatly, but Morgan has very much been apart of the changes made to the hobby. 

It's not to difficult to still pull Morgan cards out of packs and he has also been a willing signer for several different card companies. Morgan is a difficult autograph to find for less than $20, but you also have to get something pretty exotic for the price to land north of $50.  My two favorite autographs are his 2001 Topps Archives and his 2000 Topps Stars cards.  Both are on card autographs and have a good design.  


There are other cool Morgan autographs beyond these two of course.  Morgan also has some really nice looking autographs in some of the Triple Threads and Topps Sterling products, but with some low print runs, those are the types of Morgan cards that can land you a price tag greater than $50.  

If you are looking for an item featuring Morgan in a Durham Bulls uniform I would recommend tracking down a 100th Anniversary Bobblehead issued by the Durham Bulls. If you live in central North Carolina they are fairly easy to find on Craigslist or you can also find them on EBay.  Here's a picture of mine, excuse Mike Matheny in the background. 


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