Born: November 12, 1983
Charles A. Morton was born November 12, 1983 in Flemington. Charlie’s father, Chip, was a basketball player for Penn State, so as Charlie grew to 6–5, no one was surprised. What raised a few eyebrows was that baseball was clearly the boy’s sport. He had a live arm as far back as anyone could remember and, after his family moved to Redding, Connecticut, he trained with coach Joe Norko at an indoor facility in Milford. There Charlie learned how to throw a curve.
By the time Charlie joined the Joel Barlow High School varsity, he had command of a fastball that touched the 90s, a 12-to-6 curve and a sinker. Between starts, he worked with his dad in family bullpen sessions. In 2002, Charlie was taken in the third round of the draft by the Atlanta Braves.
By 2008, Charlie had worked his way up to Triple-A Richmond. That season, he was the most dominant pitcher in the minors during the first half. The Braves promoted him in June and he made 15 starts for the team, going 4–8 with a 6.15 ERA. It was a lost season for the Braves, who dropped 90 games, so manager Bobby Cox figured it was a good time to see what Charlie had.
Apparently, the Pittsburgh Pirates liked what they saw more than the Braves did. Flush with outfield prospects, they traded Nate McClouth to Atlanta to obtain Charlie in 2009, and slotted him into their starting rotation in June. He went 5–9 with a 4.55 ERA.
A lot was expected of Charlie in 2010, but he had a catastrophic season. Suffering from shoulder fatigue, he went 2–12 and spent half the season either on the DL or in the minors. He pitched better in September, but his career was hanging by a thread when Spring Training began in 2011.
Charlie made the Pirates starting rotation and his record stood at 5–2 at the end of May. The difference was his sinker. Major leaguers could hit his mid-90s fastball and his breaking stuff wasn’t always reliable. But when he had his sinker working, batters just pounded it into the ground. Through the course of the season he lost and regained his feel for the pitch, but in August he seemed to turn a corner, hurling 24 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. He finished 11–11 with an ERA under 4.00 and was named the Pirates’ Breakout Player of the Year.
Charlie had surgery after the seaosn to repair a slight labrum tear, but the healing process was slower than expected. When he finally returned to the mound in 2012 he damaged his elbow and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Charlie was back in uniform in June of 2013 and went 7–4 in 20 starts. In 2014, he was striking out batters at a career-best rate, but struggled at times with control. He had won just 6 of 26 starts when a leg injury ended his season in August. He led the NL in hit batters in both 2013 and 2014.
Charlie returned to the mound in 2015 and went 9–9 in 23 starts for the Pirates. He had started the year a perfect 5–0 but was inconsistent thereafter. In his last appearance opf the season he was hammered by St. Louis in a game that could have positioned the Pirates to overtake the division-leading Cardinals in the final week. The Pirates made the playoffs but lost the Wild Card Game. After the season, Pittsburgh traded Charlie to the Phillies for a minor leaguer.