Joe Morgan: Wikis

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Joe Morgan

with the Cincinnati Reds
Second baseman
Born: September 19, 1943 (1943-09-19) (age 66)
Bonham, Texas
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 21, 1963 for the Houston Colt .45's
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1984 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average     .271
Hits     2,517
Home runs     268
Runs batted in     1,133
Stolen bases     689
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1990
Vote     81.8% (first ballot)

Joe Leonard Morgan (born September 19, 1943) is a former Major League Baseball second baseman. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. Morgan is currently an Emmy-winning commentator for ESPN television and radio.

Contents

Biography

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Playing career

Raised in Oakland, and nicknamed "Little Joe" for his diminutive 5'7" stature, Morgan was a standout at Castlemont High School before being signed by the Houston Colt .45's as an amateur free agent in 1962. Early in his career, he had trouble with his swing because he kept his back elbow down too low. Teammate Nellie Fox suggested to Joe that while at the plate he should flap his back arm like a chicken to keep his elbow up. Morgan followed the advice, and his flapping arm became a familiar sight to baseball fans.

Cincinnati Reds

Although Morgan played with distinction for Houston, the Astros wanted more power in their lineup. Additionally, manager Harry Walker considered Morgan a troublemaker.[1]

As a result they traded Morgan to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a blockbuster multi-player deal on November 29, 1971, announced at baseball's winter meetings. While the Astros got power-hitting Lee May, the deal is now considered one of the most one-sided trades in baseball history. To this day it is considered an epoch-making deal for Cincinnati and one of the worst trades in Astros' history. Included in the deal to the Reds were César Gerónimo (who became their regular center fielder) and Jack Billingham, who soon joined the Reds pitching rotation as a leading starter. Veteran infielder, Dennis Menke along with outfielder Ed Armbrister. In addition to May, all star second baseman Tommy Helms and outfielder/pinch hitter Jimmy Stewart went to the Astros. The deal facilitated a shift in Reds team philosophy towards speed over power, with Morgan and outfielder Pete Rose now two key figures batting back-to-back. Morgan added unusual home run power (at that time) for a second baseman to outstanding speed on the basepaths and excellent defense.

After joining The Big Red Machine, Morgan's career reached a new level. This includes eight consecutive All-Star Game appearances (1972–1979) to go along with his 1966 and 1970 appearances with Houston.

Morgan, along with teammates Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Pérez, and Dave Concepción, led the Reds to consecutive championships in the World Series. He drove in the winning run in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, now ranked as one of the greatest World Series of all time. Morgan was also the National League MVP in 1975 and 1976. He was the first second baseman in the history of the National League to win the MVP back to back.[2]

Morgan was an extremely capable batter—especially in clutch situations. While his lifetime average was only .271, he hit between .288 and .327 during his peak years with the Reds. Additionally, he drew many walks, resulting in an excellent .392 on base percentage. He also hit 268 home runs to go with 449 doubles and 96 triples, excellent power for a middle infielder of his era, and was considered by some the finest base stealer of his generation (689 steals at greater than 80% success rate). Besides his prowess at the plate and on the bases, Morgan was an exceptional infielder, and captured the Gold Glove Award from 1972 to 1976.

After his career ended, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1987, and his jersey number 8 was retired. He also threw out the 1st pitch at the Reds 1st spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark on March 5, 2010

Later career

In 1980, he returned to Houston to help the young Astros win the NL West. The Astros then lost the National League Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies. Morgan went to the San Francisco Giants for the next two seasons. It was his home run in the last game of the 1982 season that eliminated the Dodgers from the division race. He won the 1982 Willie Mac Award for his spirit and leadership. Then, he went to the Phillies where he rejoined ex-teammates Pete Rose and Tony Pérez. After losing to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, Morgan finished his career with the Oakland Athletics.

Legacy

In the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James named Morgan the best second baseman in baseball history, ahead of #2 Eddie Collins and #3 Rogers Hornsby. He also named Morgan as the "greatest percentages player in baseball history," due to his strong fielding percentage, stolen base percentage, walk-to-strikeout ratio, and walks per plate appearance. That data was shown with the caveat that many players in baseball history could not be included in the formula due to lack of data. [3]

In 1996, Ryne Sandberg came out of retirement and the next year broke Morgan's record for most home runs by a second baseman. Morgan was unable to attend Sandberg's Hall of Fame induction due to family commitments, leading to speculation that Morgan disapproved of the act.[4]

In 1999, Morgan ranked Number 60 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Broadcasting career

Local gigs

Morgan started his broadcasting career in 1985 for the Cincinnati Reds. On September 11, 1985, Morgan along with his television broadcasting partner Ken Wilson were on hand to call Pete Rose's record breaking 4,192 career hit. A year later, Morgan started a nine year stint as an announcer for the San Francisco Giants. Morgan added one more local gig when he joined the Oakland Athletics' broadcasting team for the 1995 season.

ABC Sports

From 19881989, Morgan served as an announcer for ABC, where he helped announce Monday Night and Thursday Night Baseball games, the 1988 American League Championship Series with Gary Bender and Reggie Jackson, and served as a field reporter for the 1989 World Series. Morgan was on the field at San Francisco's Candlestick Park alongside Hall of Famer Willie Mays (whom Morgan was getting set to interview just prior to the earthquake) the moment the Loma Prieta earthquake hit at 5:04 p.m.

NBC Sports

From 19942000, Morgan teamed with Bob Costas and (until 1997) Bob Uecker to call baseball games on NBC (and in association with The Baseball Network from 1994–1995). During this period, Morgan helped call three World Series (1995, 1997, and 1999) and four All-Star Games (1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000). Morgan had spent a previous (19861987) stint with NBC calling regional Game of the Week telecasts.

ESPN

Currently, Morgan is a member of ESPN's lead baseball broadcast team alongside Jon Miller. Besides teaming with Miller for Sunday Night Baseball telecasts, Morgan has also teamed with Miller for World Series broadcasts on ESPN Radio. In 2006, he called the Little League World Series Championship with Brent Musburger and Orel Hershiser on ABC, replacing the fired Harold Reynolds.[5] During the 2006 MLB playoffs, the network had Morgan, their lead baseball analyst, pull double duty by calling the first half of the MetsDodgers playoff game at Shea Stadium before traveling across town to call the YankeesTigers night game at Yankee Stadium.[6]

He was also a broadcaster in the MLB 2K series from 2K Sports. Although Joe Morgan's partnership with Jon Miller began in 1990, it wasn't the first time that Morgan associated himself with ESPN. From 1985–1988, Morgan called college baseball games for ESPN.

In his time at ESPN, Morgan has been a vocal critic of statistics-based analysis of baseball, sometimes called sabermetrics. Michael Lewis' book Moneyball, which describes Billy Beane's sabermetric-influenced approach to running the Oakland Athletics, is a particular target of Morgan's criticism.[7][7] He has previously refused to read the book reasoning that statistics are not more helpful than observation.

In 2009, Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski spoke about the perceived disparity between Morgan's celebrated playing style and his on-air persona:

"The disconnect between Morgan the player and Morgan the announcer is one that I’m just not sure anyone has figured. Bill James tells a great story about how one time Jon Miller showed Morgan Bill’s New Historical Baseball Abstract, which has Morgan ranked as the best second baseman of all time, ahead of Rogers Hornsby. Well, Morgan starts griping that this was ridiculous, that Hornsby hit .358 in his career, and Morgan never hit .358, and so on. And there it was, perfectly aligned—Joe Morgan the announcer arguing against Joe Morgan the player."[8]

Family Athletic Legacy

Morgan's twin daughters, Ashley and Kelly, are members of NCAA athletic teams. Ashley is a gymnast at Stanford University while Kelly is a soccer player at the University of Southern California.

Career statistics

G AB R H BB 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2649 9277 1650 2517 1865 449 96 268 1133 689 162 .271 .392 .427

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Purdy, Dennis (2006). The Team-by-Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. New York City: Workman. ISBN 0761139435. 
  2. ^ Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.152, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  3. ^ Bill James, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (Washington: Simon & Shuster, 2001), 479–481.
  4. ^ Morgan's absence at Ryne's day odd
  5. ^ http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/104775
  6. ^ USATODAY.com – Networks take N.Y. minute to decide baseball's two postseason money series
  7. ^ a b http://www.sfweekly.com/2005-07-06/news/say-it-ain-t-so-joe/
  8. ^ http://www.gelfmagazine.com/archives/the_sportswriting_machine.php

External links


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