Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, a loyal member of the legendary Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds, died on Sunday. He was 77. Morgan died in his California home, a spokesman for the family told The Associated Press on Monday. In recent years, he has suffered with numerous health problems, including a nerve disorder, a form of polyneuropathy. Morgan was a two-time Most Valuable Player in the National League, a 10-time All-Star and a five-time recipient of the Gold Glove Award. He is widely recognized as one of baseball history’s greatest second basemen and has achieved fame after his playing career for his 25-plus years as a broadcaster.
With the Reds and the Houston Astros franchise, he spent the bulk of his 22-year career. Morgan helped the Reds win back-to – back World Series championships in 1975 and 1976, along with Pete Rose and fellow Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Perez. In 1972, Morgan’s first year with the Reds, Cincinnati reached the World Series as well.
In a tweet, CEO Bob Castellini said, “The Reds family is heartbroken. Joe was a giant in the game and was adored by the fans in this city,” “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.”
“Major League Baseball is deeply saddened by the death of Joe Morgan, one of the best five-tool players our game has ever known and a symbol of all-around excellence,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Joe often reminded baseball fans that the player smallest in stature on the field could be the most impactful.”
In 1975 and 1976, Morgan was the NL MVP and was also named an All-Star with the Reds in each of his eight seasons. With 268 home runs, 1,133 RBIs, 1,650 runs scored and 689 stolen bases, he was a .271 career hitter, the 11th-most in baseball history.
In 1963, when the Astros were the Houston Colt .45’s, Morgan first played in the majors. He was traded to Cincinnati in November 1971 as part of an eight-player contract and spent the next eight years with the Reds.
Morgan also played with the San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics late in his career after spending the 1980 season with Houston, before retiring at the age of 41 after the 1984 season.
Joe Morgan was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.
He began his broadcasting career in 1985 and served from 1990 to 2010 at ESPN, serving as a part of the lead baseball broadcast team of the network. Morgan parted ways with ESPN after the 2010 season when he returned to the Reds in the role of special adviser to baseball operations.
“Joe Morgan was a close friend and an advisor to me, and I welcomed his perspective on numerous issues in recent years,” Manfred said. “He was a true gentleman who cared about our game and the values for which it stands.”
Morgan is survived by Theresa, his 30-year-old wife; Kelly and Ashley, their twin daughters; and Lisa and Angela’s daughters from his first marriage to Gloria Morgan.
Morgan, a list that includes Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline, is among the Hall of Famers who have died this year.