By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
These days, you probably know him as a rookie outfielder for the Florida Marlins.
You might have Logan Morrison’s card, too – one with the Bowman name, or maybe one from Donruss Elite Extra Edition. If not, no worries — you’ll soon have his Rookie Card in a 2010 set or two as he joined the big-league club in late-July. But just a few months ago, if you were a customer of Bonanza Sports in Jupiter, Fla., you might have known him as the salesman who helped you pick out an autographed item or two and he might have handed you his card.
You see, before Morrison was busy lighting things up for the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs – where he hit .307 with six homers and 45 RBI this season — and before playing in the All-Star Futures Game and then getting promoted to the big leagues, he was an employee at a sports card and memorabilia shop. And while his world has changed quite dramatically playing in the majors, he’s still not too far removed from the card shop experience even though he’s a player already getting national attention and a player appearing on regional TV segments like FSN’s “Lunch with LoMo.” (See Part 2 of that segment here.)
“It doesn’t feel like a long ways away from the card shop,” said Morrison Wednesday morning. “I mean, that’s all different, but I still talk to [Bonanza owner] Jim [Sage] and have great conversations. And he’ll come to games, too.”
Working in a card shop, however, did show Morrison another aspect of the baseball business, where memorabilia and autographs are seemingly always in demand.
“It was interesting to see people from the customer browsing to the intense fan looking for a particular card,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t know who I was, so that made it fun to watch.”
Earlier this summer, Morrison was named the sixth Topps Red Hot Rookie of the year and, ironically, if one takes a closer look at the background of that card’s photo they might notice something interesting. There’s an advertisement for BonanzaSports.net on the card. (The photograph is from a March 14 spring training game and the full image from The Associated Press’ is seen above.)
Believe it or not, that cool bit of cardboard trivia didn’t surprise the rookie.
“He always advertises at Jupiter Stadium,” said Morrison, who can be found on Twitter as LoMoMarlins.
So far, Morrison appears on more than 90 different baseball cards with 35 of those being autographed and just two of those being game-used memorabilia cards. His most-expensive cards of those tracked by Beckett Baseball are his 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects Gold Refractor, which is limited to just 50 copies, and his 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects Blue Refractor, which is autographed. Each card sells for as much as $120.
“I didn’t know I had that many cards,” he said. “I have some from what people have given me, but nothing like the Gold Refractors.”
Morrison, who grew up in Missouri, said he was a fan of former Royals star and Hall of Famer George Brett but never focused on any single player’s cards when he bought them as a kid.
“I bought cards, mostly not single cards, but I got packs in mass quantity,” he said.
And is he a collector now that he’s in the majors?
“I’m soaking it all in at this point,” he said, “but I’ll get something signed if it’s someone my dad liked, like Juan Marichal.”
Morrison, 23, is hitting .309 with 16 RBI in 50 games for the third-place Marlins. He made his big-league debut on July 27, batting second in a game against the San Francisco Giants. He went 1-for-4 in the game, singling off of former All-Star Matt Cain.
Earlier in the season, the Marlins faced the hobby’s biggest story of the year, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, and took down the rookie with an 8-2 victory. Morrison walked in his first two plate appearances before grounding out against the No. 1 pick. What was it like facing Strasburg? Morrison had a different perspective than what some might think.
“It was alright,” he said of the challenge, “just another guy who throws hard.”
Had he been working at Bonanza earlier this year, Morrison would have been dealing with customers’ demands for Strasburg as part of his duties. But Bonanza’s owner said Morrison would have handled things just like one of those 100-mph Strasburg fastballs.
“Logan is very outgoing, humble and friendly with all the customers,” Sage said. “It was always awesome when people would walk into the store and recognize him, he would always have a huge grin on his face.”
And, of course, Morrison wasn’t just an employee – he was one of the many younger players who did signings with Bonanza and had autographed items available for sale at the shop. That, too, allowed for some fun moments with customers.
“We also had an autographed picture of him on the wall,” Sage said. “And he had fun with people when they would ask him who that is, or tell him that the guy in the picture looks a lot like him.”
Morrison recalled a day where a little girl made the connection – only after a double-take or two.
“She asked, ‘Is that you?’” Morrison said with a laugh, “and I finally said, ‘Yes.’”
So, how does a player with big-league dreams find his way into a position behind the display cases at a hobby shop?
Simple, an autograph appearance.
“We met when he was with the Jupiter Hammerheads in Single-A and I did an autograph signing with him in our store,” Sage said. “We talked about his looking for work during the off-season. … The following off-season, Logan got in contact with me and asked if I still had an opening for him, and he became my star employee.”
A star employee who’s now starring in the big leagues, no less.
In the past, Morrison had to juggle his work schedule with his baseball schedule, but these days it’s his baseball schedule – and everything else that comes along with that.
Sage said Morrison will be just fine.
“He would work out hard training in the mornings then come to work at Bonanza always full of enthusiasm,” Sage said. “Logan had a great work ethic just like he does on the baseball field.”
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.