Cincinnati Reds great Joe Morgan, dead at 77

Hall of Fame second baseman follows American League pitching legend Whitey Ford a week apart
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Joe Morgan

Metropolis News Service.

Joe Morgan, a 10-time All-Star and two-time National League MVP for the Cincinnati Reds’ powerful “Big Red Machine” championship teams in the 1970s, has died. He passed away Oct. 11 at his home in Danville, Calif., a family spokesman said. Morgan was suffering from a nerve condition called polyneuropathy.

Teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, catcher Johnny Bench said in a statement released by the Hall, that Morgan was the finest player at the second base in Major League history.

“Joe wasn’t just the best second baseman in baseball history, he was the best player I ever saw and one of the best people I’ve ever known,”

This year has been particularly tough for players in the Hall of Fame. Morgan is the sixth to die in 2020, joining Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Whitey Ford.

“Our group shared some very special moments and experiences that will remain with us forever,” Tony Perez said in a statement released by the Hall of Fame. “At the moment, it’s just hard to put into words how much he meant to so many, and how missed he will be.”

Morgan, a five-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman, was elected to Cooperstown on the first ballot in 1990,  He began a 22-year MLB career with Houston in 1963 and played nine seasons for the Colt .45s and Astros before being traded to the Reds in an eight-player deal in 1971.

The Little General won back-to-back MVP awards, the only second baseman to do so, in 1975 and 1976, winning the World Series in both years alongside Pete Rose, Bench, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, and Ken Griffey Sr.

In those two seasons, Morgan averaged 22 home runs, 102 RBIs, 110 runs scored and 64 stolen bases, with a slash line of .324/.456/.541 for an OPS of .997. He finished his career with 268 homers, 2,517 hits, 1,650 runs scored, and 689 stolen bases.

“The Reds family is heartbroken. Joe was a giant in the game and was adored by the fans in this city,” team CEO Bob Castellini said in a statement. “He had a lifelong loyalty and dedication to this organization that extended to our current team and front office staff. As a cornerstone on one of the greatest teams in baseball history, his contributions to this franchise will live forever. Our hearts ache for his Big Red Machine teammates.”