Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, a key member of Cincinnati Redsthe famous Big Red Machine, died Sunday. He was 77.
Morgan died Sunday at his home in Danville, California, family spokesman James Davis said in a statement Monday.
Morgan has struggled with various health problems in recent years, including a nerve disease, a form of polyneuropathy.
Morgan was a two-time National League Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove Award winner. He is widely regarded as one of the best other base men in baseball history, and he became known for his 25 years plus as a broadcaster after his playing career.
“Major League Baseball is deeply saddened by Joe Morgan, one of the best five-tool players our game has ever known, and a symbol of generality,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Joe often reminded baseball fans that the youngest player on the field could be the most influential.”
Morgan spent most of his 22-year career at Reds and the Houston astros franchise. Along with Pete Rose and other Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, Morgan helped the Reds win back-to-back World Championships in 1975 and 1976. Cincinnati also reached the World Series in 1972, Morgan’s first year with the Reds.
“Joe Morgan was simply the best baseball player I played against or so,” Bench texted the Associated Press.
Morgan was NL MVP in 1975 and 1976 and was named an All-Star in each of his eight seasons with the Reds. He was a .271 career hitter, with 268 home runs, 1133 RBIs, 1650 points scored and 689 stolen bases, 11th in baseball history.
There were moments of silence held at Petco Park in San Diego before Tampa Bay Rays and the Astros played Monday in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series and at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, before Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta tapper met in the NL Championship Series opening.
“He meant a lot to us, a lot to me, a lot to baseball, a lot to African Americans around the country. A lot to players who were considered undersized,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, a longtime friend of the National League. rival. “He was one of the first examples of speed and power for a guy they said was too small to play.”
Morgan first played in the majors in 1963, when the Astros were the Houston Colt. 45s. He was traded to Cincinnati in November 1971 as part of an eight-player deal. He played the next eight years with the Reds.
“The Reds family is devastated. Joe was a giant in the game and was loved by fans in this city,” CEO Bob Castellini said in a statement. “He had a lifelong loyalty and dedication to this organization that expanded to our current team and front officers. As a cornerstone of one of the greatest teams in baseball history, his contribution to this franchise will live on forever. Our hearts work for his great Red Machine teammates. “
The Reds are devastated to hear about the passing of baseball legend Joe Morgan. pic.twitter.com/zBoQ2gHZys
Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) October 12, 2020
Morgan spent the 1980 season with Houston, helping the Astros to an NL West title. He played for two years San Francisco – to beat home runs on the last day of the 1982 season against rival Dodgers to knock the defending champions out of the playoffs – and was later reunited with Rose and Perez in Philadelphia.
Morgan finished as a .182 hitter in 50-season play. He played in 11 series and beat .273 in just one of them, a state that surprises many, given his great game reputation.
Growing up in Oakland, California, Morgan returned to the Bay Area and played the 1984 season for Athletics before retiring at the age of 41. He set the NL record for games played at second base and ranked among career leaders on tour.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. The Reds introduced him to their Hall of Fame and retired his number (8).
“He did everything, and he did it all the time,” said Bench, the first member of the Big Red Machine to enter the hall. “Great father and outstanding businessman. He was a friend to so many and respected by all.”
Morgan started his broadcasting career in 1985 and worked for ESPN from 1990 to 2010serving as a member of the network’s leading baseball broadcast team, Morgan parted ways with ESPN after the 2010 season, when he returned to the Reds in his role as special adviser on baseball operations.
He was also the deputy chairman of the baseball Hall of Fame and on the board of the Baseball Assistance Team.
“Joe was a close friend and adviser to me, and I welcomed his perspective on many issues in recent years,” said Manfred. “He was a true gentleman who cared about our game and the values it stands for.”
Morgan is survived by his wife of 30 years, Theresa; their twin daughters, Kelly and Ashley; and daughters Lisa and Angela from his marriage to Gloria Morgan. Funeral details were not yet specified.
Morgan is among several Hall of Famers who have died this year, including Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline.
“All champions. This hurts the most,” Bench said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.