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Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Mike Morgan, the Nexus of the Baseball Universe?

You will be entertained by the answer.

A few years ago, some college students in Pennsylvania invented a popular game   about the actor Kevin Bacon.? The object of the game was to start with an actor   or actress and connect them with Bacon in the fewest links possible.? People   are linked if they appeared in the same movie.? A ?Bacon Number? was assigned   to the actor based on the fewest links necessary to connect them with Kevin   Bacon.? For instance, Telly Savalas was in ?Kelly?s Heroes? with Donald Sutherland.?   Sutherland appeared in ?Animal House? (and ?JFK?) with Bacon.? Therefore Sutherland   has a Bacon Number of 1 and Savalas has a Bacon Number of 2.

This isn?t an entirely new concept.? Since the 1960s, sociologists   have suggested that every person is connected to every other person through   an average of six acquaintances.? Paul Erdos, a prolific Hungarian mathematician,   invented the Erdos Number.? Every academic who collaborated on a paper with   Erdos was assigned an Erdos Number of 1.? Every co-author of these collaborators   has an Erdos Number of 2.? And so on, and so on.? The Erdos Number became the   forerunner of the Bacon Number.

What does this have to do with baseball?? You can connect players   to each other by linking them with players who appeared on the same team in   the same year.? I?m not counting managers and coaches.?? (This eliminates Don   Zimmer as a link between everyone from Jackie Robinson to Randy Choate.)? Let?s   link Roger Maris to Mark McGwire.? Maris played on the Cardinals along with   Mike Torrez.? Torrez was on the ?77 Yanks with Reggie Jackson.? Mr. October   finished his career as McGwire’s teammate on the A?s.? How about Lou Gerhig   to Cal Ripken?? You can link Gerhig to Tommy Heinrich, Heinrich to Yogi Berra,   Berra to Tug McGraw, McGraw to Jeff Stone, and Stone to Ripken.? (Thanks to   T. Scott Brandon for that one.)

Who would be the most linkable player in baseball history?? It   would have to be a player who a.) Had a lengthy career, and b.) Played for a   lot of different teams.? In fact, there is an active player who meets both criteria.?

Currently in his twenty-first major league season, Mike Morgan is the ultimate   sports journeyman.? In a career that started in 1978 and spans four decades,   Morgan has played for twelve different major league teams.? No one, in any major   team sport has played for more than ten teams.? Throughout those many years,   Morgan has had close to 650 teammates.? Out of 15,500 players who have appeared   in the big leagues, 4.2% have played with Mike Morgan.? We can assign these   players a Morgan Number of 1.

Let?s play the ?Mike Morgan Game? with a couple of Hall of Famers.? Ted Williams   played with Frank Malzone, who played with Yaz.? Yaz played with Fred Lynn,   who was on the 1988 Orioles with Morgan.? The Splendid Splinter?s Morgan Number   is less than or equal to 4.? (There may be a quicker link.? I haven?t done exhaustive   research on this.)? Hank Aaron has a Morgan Number of 2.? Aaron and Morgan both   played with Gorman Thomas.? Warren Spahn?s Morgan Number is also 2.? Spahnnie   and Morgan shared Rico Carty as a teammate.

Most players who have appeared in the last quarter century have Morgan Numbers   less than or equal to 2.? If they haven?t played with Morgan, they?ve probably   played with someone who has. ?Joe Morgan has a Morgan Number of 2.? Both Morgans   played with Ken Griffey Sr. (among others).? You can do this with teams.? The   1969 Kansas City Royals all have Morgan Numbers of 2 or less.? Buck Martinez,   who was a catcher on that team, played on the 1983 Blue Jays with Morgan.

So, is Mike Morgan the nexus of the baseball universe?? Further research would   be necessary to determine whether or not he is.? If he isn?t yet, he probably   will be some day.? There are quite a few players who played with Morgan who   are young enough to play well into the 21st century.? Some of Morgan?s   teammates on the 1998 Twins come to mind.? It is unlikely that anyone has had   as many teammates as Morgan.? The other candidates that come to mind, Nolan   Ryan and Hoyt Wilhelm, are Hall of Famers.? They have their glory.? Spare some   for the journeymen of the world.

JUST FOR FUN

     
  1. Kevin Bacon has a Morgan Number of 4.? Bacon was in ?The Big Picture? with   Yvonne Peattie.? Peattie was in ?That Touch of Mink? with Mickey Mantle.?   Mantle played with Bobby Murcer.? Murcer was on the 1982 Yankees with Mike   Morgan.
  2.  
  3. Paul Erdos, arguably, has a Morgan Number of 3.? Erdos and Hank Aaron both   received honorary degrees from Emory University the same year.? There is a   professor who owns a baseball autographed by both.? As mentioned earlier,   Aaron played with Gorman Thomas, who played with Morgan.
  4.  
  5. Larry Bird also has a Morgan Number of 3.? Bird played with Danny Ainge,   who was a Toronto Blue Jay third baseman before joining the NBA.? Ainge was   a teammate of Dave Stieb, who later played with Morgan.
  6.  
  7. Steve Young has a Morgan Number of 2.? Young played with Neon Deion Sanders   on the 49ers.? Deion was a Reds teammate of Mike Morgan.

Jonathon Daly is a new member of the Society of Baseball Research (SABR)   and can be reached at jon31768@yahoo.com.

 

Jon Daly Posted: June 13, 2001 at 06:00 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603901)
Okay, how's this: My Mike Morgan number is 5. I played Wiffle Ball in the backyard with my sister. My sister worked with Jeff Torborg's son Dale in a sporting-goods store. Dale is currently working as a coach for his father Jeff (I assume that though coach-player connections aren't being allowed, coach-manager ones would be, or at the least father-son ones.) Jeff Torborg played on the 1971 California Angels with Dave Laroche. Dave Laroche played on the 1982 Yankees with Mike Morgan.
   2. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603902)
I've got a Mike Morgan number of 4. My uncle pitched to me in the back yard when I was a kid. When he was in little league he had 2 at bats against Charlie Puleo, who eventually became a journeyman major league releiver. Puleo was on the 1984 Reds with Eric Davis. Davis was on the 1996 Reds with Mike Morgan.
   3. Jay Jaffe Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603903)
Bobo Newsome, who played from 1929 to 1953, was the Mike Morgan of his day, a well-travelled pitcher with a losing record. Newsome played for nine teams, and changed uniforms 17 times in his career (he had multiple stints with several teams, including the St. Louis Browns and the Washington Senators). Newsome would be to the 19th century ballplayers what Morgan is to the 21st century ones. Of course there were fewer teams in Newsome's day, so he played with fewer teammates. Anyone care to figure out Newsome's Morgan number?

As for me: The only foul ball I ever retrieved was at a rookie league game in Walla Walla, Washington, and was signed by catcher Bob Geren. Geren eventually made the big leagues and was a teammate of Don Mattingly, who was a teammate of Mike Morgan. Making my Mike Morgan number 3.

That's as close as I'm gonna get.
   4. Jay Jaffe Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603905)
Bobo Newsome played with Early Wynn on the Senators in '42-'43. Wynn played with Tommy John on the '63 Indians. John was Morgan's teammate on the Yankees in '82. So that's 3.
   5. Christian (ruz) Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603906)
I've got a Morgan number of 3, looks like...the only foul ball I ever caught was off the bat of Mike Greenwell, who played on the 1995-96 Red Sox with Mike Maddux, who played on the 1990 Dodgers with Mike Morgan.
   6. scruff Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603908)
DAMN JAY!!

I just spent the last hour and a half, went through every possible combination, almost literally, trying to find a teammate of Rico Carty or Tito Fuentes that played with Bobo Newsom. Tried to find a teammate of Eddie Yost or Yogi Berra or Sherm Lollar's that played with Morgan. I was hitting the end of careers, trying to pin it, didn't look at Wynn's 1959-62, only 63. I found Morgan-Fuentes-Kuenn-Priddy-Newsom. Also had Newsom-Yost-Fregosi-Gossage-Morgan.

So finally, I get Newsom-Wynn-John-Morgan to knock it to four, I'm all fired up -- and I see you found it already, just like that. What a bummer. If my boss knew what I was doing for the last hour and a half . . . I can't believe I didn't think of John. I was scolling down the list looking up teammates for Piniella, Watson, Nettles, and then I finally got to John and it's already done.

This could become a pretty good drinking game for statheads . . .
   7. David Geiser Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603909)

I think you can drop your Splendid Splinter Morgan number by one.

Ted Williams played with Gary Geiger in 1959/60, who played with Bob Watson on the 1969/70 Astros, who played with Morgan on the 1982 Yankees.
   8. David Geiser Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603911)

It was tough to get Babe Ruth's Morgan number down to 4 (i.e., 3 players separating them), but I finally got it.

Any guesses?

   9. Jay Jaffe Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603912)
Morgan, Tommy John, Early Wynn, Pete Appleton, Babe Ruth.
   10. Voros McCracken Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603913)
I have a feeling Minnie Minoso could be useful here. I'm assuming Minoso is a 2 with Morgan as there has to be someone fromthe 1980 White Sox who was a teammate of Morgan's. I suspect Baines must have been Morgan's teammate at some point.

I remember seeing a late 80s Elias Baseball Analyst where under players Frank Tanana "struggles" against is listed "Minnie Minoso."
   11. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603914)
That's one heck of a missing link. The Red Sox rosters in the 20s and early 30s are a complete mess. (Okay, they stunk, but it still seems a little extreme.) The best I can give you is: Joe Wood-Herb Pennock-Jack Quinn-Red Ruffing-Tom Oliver-Rick Ferrell-Jimmy Foxx. I think this comes out to about 14 or 15 for the century. (Of course, you could cheat because Pennock came back to the Sox in '34 and matches with Lefty Grove. And if you wanted to nit-pick, you could claim that Williams missed the war years, so it's not a complete chain.)

On the other hand, I can do the Mets in 4 steps: Ed Kranepool-Jesse Orosco-Darryl Strawberry-John Franco. Not bad for 40 seasons.
   12. Chris Dial Posted: June 13, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603915)
I batted against Frank DiMichele in a MSBL game in Philadelphia. He was a member of the 1988 Angels with Tony Armas. Armas was a teammate of Morgan's on the 1978 A's. I have a Morgan number of 3 (and that's actually playing ! (sort of))
   13. MattB Posted: June 14, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603920)
How about the Orioles in 4 for 48 seasons.

Cal Abrams - Brooks Robinson - Eddie Murray - Cal Ripken, Jr.

Except for 1954, the has always been a future All-Star on the Orioles. That's got to be a record of some sort.
   14. MattB Posted: June 14, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603921)
I meant future Hall of Famer. It's not a record at all to have an All-Star on your team every year. Even a future All-Star.
   15. Robert Dudek Posted: June 14, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603922)
Does everyone who is active in 2001 or was active in 2000 have a Morgan number of 2 or less ?

If so, who is the last (i.e. most recent birthyear) player to have a Morgan number of 3 or more ?

A related question - which team is the last not to have at least one player to have played with Morgan.
   16. Rich Rifkin I Posted: June 14, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603928)
My Morgan number to Babe Ruth is 5, entirely composed of Hall of Famers. In 1981, I retrieved a Carlton Fisk home run, when Pudge was playing for the White Sox. In 1973, Fisk was a teammate of Luis Aparicio on the Red Sox. In 1962, Aparacio played with Early Wynn on the White Sox. In 1943, Wynn and Lefty Gomez were teammates on the Washington Senators. And in 1934, Gomez and Ruth played together on the Yankees.

Surprisingly, my Morgan number to Ty Cobb is even lower: 3. In 1983, I shook hands with Ted Williams after a college baseball game. Williams was a teammate of Jimmie Foxx on the 1942 Red Sox; and Foxx played with Ty Cobb on the 1928 Philadelphia Athletics.
   17. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 16, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603931)
I don't have playing connections with any recent players, so I have to go through my grandfather, who played a little with Greenberg as a kid (although I only played catch with my grandfather, I think that's enough to count). Best I can see is Szymborski ---> Scholom ---> Greenberg ---> Pierce ---> Cardenal ---> Renko ---> Morgan, which sort of sucks. If just meeting counts, I can go Szymborski ---> Mientkiewicz ---> Morgan, which is much cooler.
   18. Eric Posted: June 18, 2001 at 12:08 AM (#603933)
I think that we could nominate a few guys as the Mike Morgan of the 19th Century. My nominees would be:

-Paul Hines (1872-1891), 9 teams, 3 leagues, Morgan # of 6 (Hines >Lowe >Cobb > Foxx > D Ennis > H Wilhelm > John > M Morgan)
-Deacon White (1871-1890), 9 teams, 3 leagues, Morgan # of 6 (White > S Thompson > Cobb etc...)
-Deacon McGuire (1884-1908, '10, '12) 12 teams (80-90 years before Morgan did it), 3 leagues, Morgan # of 5 (McGuire > Cobb etc...)
-Dan Brouthers (1879-1896, 1904) 11 teams, 3 leagues, Morgan # of 5 (Brouthers > Keeler > J Quinn > Lombardi > Spahn > Carty > Morgan)

Too bad Anson only played with three teams. His Morgan number would seem to be 6 (Anson > C Griffith > I Meusel > M Ott> B Thomson > E Banks > B North > M Morgan)

My Morgan numbers might not be the lowest possible numbers, but it's all I could come up with in a couple hours. Please feel free to revise them downward!!!!

eric chalek
newmarket, nh
   19. Obama Bomaye Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:36 PM (#3297945)
I guess my Morgan number is 3, as I met Jeff Torborg at a baseball camp when I was about 10.
   20. AROM Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:45 PM (#3297955)
I think mine is 3. Looks like Morgan missed being teammates with Gregg Olson by one year, so I can use Olson (flew out to left off him in fantasy camp) - Randy Johnson - Mike Morgan.
   21. BDC Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3297963)
I saw Mike Morgan naked. More than once.
   22. Gazizza, my Dilznoofuses! Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:57 PM (#3297965)
My Mike Morgan Chain:
Me -> My great Uncle
My great uncle went to spring training with the Cardinals and batted against Dizzy Dean

And Courtesy of The Oracle on B-R.Com:

Dizzy Dean played with Skeeter Webb for the 1932 St. Louis Cardinals
Skeeter Webb played with Vic Wertz for the 1947 Detroit Tigers
Vic Wertz played with Willie Horton for the 1963 Detroit Tigers
Willie Horton played with Mike Morgan for the 1978 Oakland Athletics
   23. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:05 PM (#3297976)
I helped coach a Little League team that had two of Pedro Astacio's sons on it. Pedro Astacio's sons were sired by Pedro Astacio. Pedro Astacio played with Greg Colbrunn on the 1998 Rockies. Greg Colbrunn was on the 2001 Diamondbacks with Mike Morgan.

I think that makes me a 4.
   24. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:34 PM (#3298017)
I went to HS with AAA OF Billy Masse. I'm sure one of his teammates played with Morgan, but there isn't a minor league oracle to verify this.
   25. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: August 19, 2009 at 05:49 PM (#3298198)
Ok, my Mike Morgan number is 4.

I used to bowl on a team with John Joslyn, who played in the minors with Bo Jackson. Jackson played with Sammy Sosa on the '91 White Sox and Sosa played with Mike Morgan on the '92 Cubs.
   26. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 19, 2009 at 05:57 PM (#3298210)
I met Jim Negrych once. Jim Negrych played on the 2008 Altoona Curve with Luis Cruz. Luis Cruz played on the 2008 Pirates with Doug Mientkiewicz. Doug Mientkiewicz played on the 1998 Twins with Mike Morgan.
   27. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:00 PM (#3298213)
It was tough to get Babe Ruth's Morgan number down to 4 (i.e., 3 players separating them), but I finally got it.

Babe Ruth played with Leo Durocher in 1925, Durocher managed Mike Easler on the '75 Astros, Easler played with John Candelaria on the '82 Pirates and Candelaria and Morgan were teammates on the 91' Dodgers.
   28. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:02 PM (#3298216)
I went to HS with AAA OF Billy Masse. I'm sure one of his teammates played with Morgan, but there isn't a minor league oracle to verify this.


?!? Just look at the rosters! Lots of options. Gerald Williams, Rich Gedman, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Sam Horn, Lyle Mouton, Andy Pettitte, Brad Ausmus, J.T. Snow...
   29. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:03 PM (#3298219)
I was once thought to be part of a group that included Larry Andersen at a bar so I got free drinks. Larry Andersen played with Thomas Howard who played with Mike Morgan. So that makes me a three.
   30. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:04 PM (#3298220)
My Mike Morgan number is three.
I used to play flag football with Erik Schullstrom.
Erik Schullstrom played with Pat Meares for the 1994 Minnesota Twins.
Meares played with Morgan for the '98 Twins.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:13 PM (#3298228)
This guywas a high school teammate and one of my oldest friends.

He played in Niagara with Ron Rightnowar.

Who played in Milwaukee with Ricky Bones.

Who played in Cincinnati with Morgan.
   32. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:16 PM (#3298230)
You played flag football with the legendary, record-holding Erik Schullstrom?
   33. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:21 PM (#3298239)
?!? Just look at the rosters! Lots of options. Gerald Williams, Rich Gedman, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Sam Horn, Lyle Mouton, Andy Pettitte, Brad Ausmus, J.T. Snow...


Did any of them play with Morgan? I thought that Ausmus might've, but I don't have time today to check all of these guys. Work has been hectic this summer.
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:21 PM (#3298241)
Sorry, it appears my link is not working. The link in 31 should have directed to Kevin Keon, an 1989 draft pick of the Rangers originally signed by Omar Minaya.
   35. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:36 PM (#3298255)
Crispix: I did. Baseball, too, possibly -- though he's a little older, and was a lot better (though he didn't become a really big guy until college, apparently). Post-MLB, he was a pretty good closer in Japan for a couple of years, as I recall.

I'd love to get a Morgan Number through J.R./Isaiah Rider (who I definitely played baseball with) but I'm not sure I could get there.

Another way I can get to a Morgan 4: I used to work with Sean O'Connor, who was an A's minor-leaguer in the mid-80's. Sean once doubled off Vida Blue in spring training. Vida Blue played with Marty Perez for the 1977 Oakland Athletics. Perez played with Mike Morgan on the A's the next year.
   36. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: June 23, 2011 at 11:40 AM (#3860232)
Wow, this thread is still open. Happy belated tenth birthday to my internet writing debut!
   37. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: June 23, 2011 at 12:33 PM (#3860241)
I'd love to get a Morgan Number through J.R./Isaiah Rider (who I definitely played baseball with) but I'm not sure I could get there.

Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes played baseball with Isaiah Rider
Isaiah Rider was on the 93-94 Timberwolves with Mike Brown
Mike Brown was on the 86-87 Bulls with Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan was on the 94 Barons with Matt Karchner
Matt Karchner was on the 98 Cubs with Mike Morgan

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