Back before the save became a valuable, respected stat, relief pitchers like Tom “Plowboy” Morgan put out fires with little fuss or fanfare. Morgan and his fireman brethren weren’t the All-Star fixtures or face of the franchise, but they were valuable ingredients to their teams. Plowboy won two World Series titles with the Yankees in the 1950s as Stengel’s go-to stopper.
Morgan joined the Yankees in 1951 and posted a 9-3 record as a rookie. The majority of his appearances came as a starter but skipper Casey Stengel showed faith in Tom by summoning his services during the World Series. He tossed two scoreless innings in his first Fall Classic appearance. But the early 1950s were rocky times in America. The Korean War was being fought overseas and Plowboy was drafted into the military during the 1952 season. He would miss the entire 1953 season to service in the Armed Forces as well.
Plowboy returned to the Yankees in 1954 and although he was used as a starter/long reliever, he nevertheless finished third in the AL with four shutouts. But Plowboy found his niche in 1955 when Stengel made him a regular relief man. Tom notched ten saves for the AL champs that year but the Brooklyn Dodgers were finally able to defeat the Yankees after numerous World Series losses at their hands. Undeterred, Plowboy and the Yankees made another World Series appearance the following year in 1956 as Tom tied for second in the league in the saves department. He won his second and final World Championship.
Before the start of the 1957 season, Morgan was involved in a mass exodus trade with the Kansas City A’s (a favorite trade partner of the Yankees) that netted the Bronx Bombers Bobby Shantz and Clete Boyer. Morgan’s only season in KC was a poor one as skipper Lou Boudreau tried to stretch him out in the rotation with limited success. After his one season with the A’s, Morgan was packaged in another large trade–this time with the Tigers–as Billy Martin, Lou Skizas, Mickey McDermott and slugger Gus Zernial joined Plowboy in a trip to Detroit.
Although Boudreau didn’t use Plowboy accordingly in ’57, his Detroit skippers, Jack Tighe and Bill Norman, put him back in the bullpen where he flourished again. Plowboy was at his strike-throwing best that year. He posted an amazing 8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
At the age of 31, Morgan caught on with the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and fashioned a terrific 2.35 ERA for the yearling club. Plowboy had an .800 winning percentage in ’61 with ten saves. He had another fine season out of the Halos pen in 1962 when he led the team in saves and fashioned a .714 winning percentage on a 2.91 ERA. But the ’62 season was Morgan’s last good year. He ended his Major League playing days after sixteen innings with the Angels in ’63.
W 67/L 47/PCT .588/ERA 3.61/G 443/SV 64/IP 1,023/IP 1,040/BB 300/SO 364