No sense of history for Morgan Cubs pitcher concerned more with shot at playoffs

Baseball: Mcgwire Ties Maris

September 08, 1998|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Mike Morgan was hoping for a less dubious place in baseball history.

He would love the chance to be the pitcher who puts the long-suffering Cubs over the top in the National League wild-card race or who gets the opportunity to pitch in the postseason for the first time in his 18-year major-league career. He may have to settle for being remembered as the guy who gave up Mark McGwire's 61st home run.

Morgan served up a fat fastball in the bottom of the first inning yesterday, and McGwire bounced it off the stadium club high above left field. The 430-foot shot makes Morgan the answer to a new trivia question, which is something he could do without after a less-than-illustrious career that includes a prominent role in the Orioles' 0-21 start 10 seasons ago.

"I'm on the hook for the tie," said Morgan, 38. "Somebody else is going to be on the hook for the record-breaker. I'm just thankful I've been able to play this game long enough to be in this situation. I'm glad the Cubs acquired me and I have a chance to get to the postseason for the first time."

No doubt, there are some pitchers who wouldn't mind riding McGwire's coattails into history, but Morgan was acquired by the Cubs to help them get to the playoffs. He gave up two bases-empty home runs yesterday -- the other one to catcher Eli Marrero -- and suffered a 3-2 loss that cost his club an important game in the wild-card race. He wasn't looking for a clip service afterward.

"I came in here to do a job for the Chicago Cubs to give my team a chance to win," said Morgan. "I think I did that for the most part. I didn't make the pitch I wanted to. I wanted the ball down and away from him. I got it up and down the middle of the plate. I was hoping it would go foul.

"Obviously, I'd like to have a pitch or two back. I could have easily popped him up. You have got to tip your hat every now and then. I'll just tip my hat."

Pub Date: 9/08/98

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