Kittanning, PA native Mickey Morandini is a hero for an entire generation of Philadelphia Phillies fans.
The Indiana University Elementary Education major became an All American for the Hoosiers before hanging up his cleats and glove there in 1987. He left Bloomington holding a wide array of school records including most career runs scored, most doubles, most triples and most stolen bases to name a few.
The sure handed second baseman decided not to enter the 1987 MLB Draft but instead fulfill a lifelong dream of representing his country as a member of the United States National Team in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Team USA captured the gold medal and returned home as national heroes.
The Phils selected Morandini in the fifth round of the 1988 MLB Draft. He went on to anchor the middle infield in The City of Brotherly Love for nearly a decade, being selected a National League All Star in 1995 and playing a key role at the top of the lineup in the teams victory in the 1993 National League Championship Series and an appearance in the World Series.
In the latest edition of our Card Back Q&A, Morandini talks about his historic unassisted triple play against home state rival Pittsburgh, his love for R&B music and his biggest highway related pet peeves.
Tony Reid–Score must have had limited material because on your 1991 Score, your 1991 Score Rookies and 1992 Score cards on the back it said that you were ‘hard-nosed and gung ho.” Can you confirm or deny that?
Mickey Morandini-Well hard-nosed is true. I don’t know about gung ho. I was one of those guys that made the most out of my ability. I didn’t have the strongest arm or the fastest wheels and all that stuff but I always had the motto that I was not going to let anyone outwork me. That is something I was pretty proud of.
TR– The 1992 Studio cards had a plethora of information. It said that you were a big Prince fan. Is that a fair statement?
MM-Yeah that is a fair statement. I was a huge Prince fan. I was into Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire and that type of music. I like the Commodores but yeah, Prince was definitely one of my favorite artists for sure.
TR–On the same 1992 Studio card it stated that you wanted to meet Magic Johnson. Did that ever happen for you?
MM-It has not happened. That is still on the bucket list. I was hoping that when he took over as part owner for the Dodgers that he would be at a Dodgers game when I was coaching. I only coached for a couple of years, so I haven’t had that opportunity yet. Hopefully, it’s still out there for me. I hope that I get to go to a card show where maybe he is signing as well and get the opportunity to meet him. But, yeah, that is still on the bucket list.
TR– There was a card in 1993 called Golden Moments subset that chronicled the unassisted triple play versus Pittsburgh in 1992. It was a big moment for you. The card played it out word by word. What are your memories from that play that historic day?
MM– That is one play that I will never forget. It was a situation where (Jim) Leyland sent the runners with no outs. Usually, you don’t do that because of the line drive situation, you might get doubled up. He sent the runners. The funny thing about that play is that it lasted all of five seconds. I dive for the ball, catch it, take two steps to step on second base and then tag Barry Bonds for the third out. I really didn’t realize the importance of the play or the historic part of that play until after the game when all of the reporters came up and said that I was the first second baseman to turn an unassisted triple play in the regular season and I was the ninth ever to do it in the history of the game. Obviously, it was a pretty cool moment.
TR–Your 1993 Studio card stated that your pet peeve was people driving slow in the passing lane. I’m with you there, sir.
MM-Yeah that is still a pet peeve of mine. It really pissed me off. Normally, you are going 70 MPH or whatever and they are going 50 MPH and you are waiting and waiting and waiting. What really pissed me off is when I pass them on the right hand side and then get back over to the left lane and they get over right after you pass them. That is still one of my pet peeves for sure. It also makes me angry when I truck get over right in front of me and it takes him twenty minutes to pass the truck he wants to pass and I look behind me and there is absolutely nobody behind me. Like, he couldn’t wait for me to get by to come over. That chaps me, too.
TR– The Studio cards were really clutch for some high quality content. The very same cards states that your favorite player as a kid was Al Oliver. Is that accurate?
MM-Yes. That is 100 % true. I am from Pittsburgh. He played in Pittsburgh for a number of years. I grew up loving the way he hit the baseball. I truly believe he should be in the Hall of Fame. He is one of my all-time favorite players.
I always wanted to be an outfielder when I was young. He was a good outfielder. He could run a little bit. He played a little first base. He could hit line drives like nobody else. From being from Pittsburgh, he was one of the guys I always followed. I did get the chance to meet him, so that was pretty cool.