In what has become a sad refrain this year, another baseball great has passed, this time Joe Morgan. He was 77. The report I saw stated it was due to complications of polyneuropathy.
Morgan began his career with the Houston Colt 45s/Astros, then came to the Reds in a trade. He was a key cog in the Big Red Machine, and earned NL MVP honors in 1975 and 1976—when the Reds won back to back World Series championships. He hit the go ahead single in the 9th inning of game 7 in the 1975 classic. He was outstanding with the glove, on the base paths, hit for average and had good power as well. I won’t go into detailing his stats, suffice to say the JAWS metric on his Baseball Reference page lists him as the 4th best second baseman ever.
I’ve mentioned before that I grew up a Reds fan. My favorite thing about Joe Morgan was he often had a big grin on his face while he was playing. My one personal encounter with him was when I was about 14 at spring training. He and Dave Concepcion were about to leave after showering when they spied a group of us youngsters congregated by the gate. They pretended to run and hide, but then came and kindly signed autographs for all of us.
After his playing days, he became an announcer. He was not nearly as popular in that role on national broadcasts. There was even a “fire Joe Morgan” website. For myself, I noted towards the end of his time on TV that he just didn’t seem to enjoy it the way he did playing, can’t remember seeing him smile as an announcer.
He was also the #2 man at the HoF, so there’s a pretty big job there that needs to be filled.
Baseball goes on today, with ALCS and NLCS games to be played. It, like life, continues as it should. However, the list of our sports heroes who’ve passed on this year has sadly grown again with Morgan now joining Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and Whitey Ford.