Morton shows musical side at PirateFest

Morton shows musical side at PirateFest

PITTSBURGH -- Performing in front of crowds is nothing new to Charlie Morton, who makes his living on a Major League mound. But the fact that he can capture an audience with a guitar and not a baseball, well, that's certainly something to be noted.

Morton took center stage at PirateFest early Saturday evening and treated fans to a 20-minute concert that featured nothing more than an old guitar and Morton's vocals. And unbeknown to most, the right-handed starter is quite the talented musician.

Morton, who picked up playing guitar back in 2004, jumped at the opportunity to showcase his talent this weekend when word of his musical abilities leaked out. He performed one original song and a handful of others in front of a sizeable audience that included a number of his teammates.

"I thought it would be really cool for fans to see something that we do off the field," Morton said.

At Morton's request, the Pirates, who have been collecting money for relief in Haiti all week, setup a Red Cross donation box at the front of the stage during the concert. And in those 20 minutes, Morton raised $400.

Morton isn't new to singing in front of crowds, though he admitted some feeling some nerves as he took the stage. He had his first chance to perform in front of a large group back in the fall of 2006, when then-Atlanta teammate Chuck James asked him to write a song for he and his wife's first dance. Since then, Morton has dabbled in the bar scene, though a grueling baseball season isn't extremely conducive to playing in public all that often.

The guitar that Morton used on Saturday is his "roadie," as he explained afterward, and travels the country with him during the baseball season. And in fact, as he continues his songwriting endeavors, Morton is also in the process of trying to record his own album.

"I've had a couple of setbacks, but I really want to do it," he said. "I really want to record."

Though he didn't play musical instruments as a child, Morton was apparently blessed with having music in his blood. His mother sang in the choir at the family's church and for a symphony orchestra. His dad was an avid Bruce Springsteen fan. As for Morton, he fell in love with bluegrass.

"I remember going down to South Carolina when I was little and we would go to this oyster roast and they would play bluegrass," Morton said. "I thought it was awesome, because it was so quick and so different. That was the music that I got into."

Morton received a standing ovation as he wrapped his performance, and teammates sought him out afterward to laud the effort. For those who missed Morton's musical debut in Pittsburgh, don't worry. It's unlikely to be his last. Morton said that he would certainly embrace the chance to play in Pittsburgh again if he can find avenues and time to do so.

"I think it's a really neat thing for fans to see and get to feel like they're closer to the players," he said. "And I think it's important for us to be here to get closer to the fans."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.