By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Joe Leonard Morgan, one of the all-time greatest second basemen in Major League Baseball history, and a key cog in Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, has died at the age of 77.
Over 22 mostly magnificent seasons, the left-handed batting Morgan, who memorably flapped his left arm before each pitch thrown to him, totaled 2,517 hits, 1,650 runs scored, and a .271 lifetime batting average.
Additionally, he slugged 268 home runs and stole 689 bases.
Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, Morgan began his illustrious career with the Houston Colt .45s in 1963.
He remained with Houston, which in 1965 changed its nickname to the Astros for nine seasons.
In 1971, the Astros traded Morgan to the Cincinnati Reds.
In Cincinnati, he joined Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey Sr., George Foster, and others to form the renowned Big Red Machine.
In 1975, the Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in one of the most memorable World Series ever, an epic matchup where five of the seven games were decided by one run.
The following year, Morgan helped lead the Reds to a sweep of the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic to capture a second straight title.
Morgan earned League Most Valuable Players in each of those seasons.
He earned selection to the All-Star team 10 times and won five Gold Gloves.
In 1983, Morgan joined the Philadelphia Phillies and helped lead them to a World Series appearance against the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore won the series in five games, and Morgan would play one more season, ending his career with the Oakland A’s.
Morgan’s death is the latest among several legendary baseball players over the past several months, including fellow Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tom Seaver of the New York Mets, and Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees.
“This is so sad,” Cincinnati Herald Publisher Jan Michele Kearney said of Morgan’s death.
“I’m shocked and saddened by the news.”