To those among us fortunate enough to have grown up during the 1970’s watching baseball, the Cincinnati Reds had an incredibly talented team filled with future members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among these players, second baseman Joe Morgan stood out as a star among stars – a player that had mastered every single aspect of the game and excelled in each. Morgan was what is described today as a five-tool player long before the term was ever in use, and could defeat an opposing team in a variety of ways – with his bat, glove, throwing arm or with his speed on the bases. Joe Morgan stood out from other professional baseball players for another reason – his unique “arm-flap” at the plate, which served as a personal reminder to keep his back arm raised while batting.
Joe Morgan was born on September 19, 1943 in Bonham, Texas but graduated high school in Oakland, California. In 1962 Morgan was signed by the Houston Colt .45’s as an amateur free agent, quickly making his presence felt in the organization and making it to the big league club a year later in 1963. In a 22 year career Morgan played for Houston from 1963 to 1971 and again in 1980, for the Cincinnati Reds from 1972 to 1979, the San Francisco Giants in 1981 and 1982 and for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1983. Joe Morgan will undoubtedly be best remembered as a member of the Cincinnati Reds teams that won World Series Championships in 1975 and again in 1976.
Morgan had an amazingly consistent career as evidenced by his 10 all-star appearances and 5 Gold Gloves for fielding excellence. At the plate Morgan had 8 seasons with 100 or more runs scored, 8 seasons with 100 or more bases on balls, 4 seasons with at least 20 home runs and twice hit for over a .300 batting average. Additionally, Morgan had 14 seasons with at least 20 stolen bases, 9 seasons with at least 40 steals and 5 seasons with over 50 stolen bases. Joe Morgan finished his career with 1,650 runs scored, 2,517 hits, 268 home runs, 1,133 runs batted in, 689 stolen bases and a .271 batting average. Morgan won two National League Most Valuable Player Awards as well, in 1975 and 1976.
Since retiring, Morgan has made a career of broadcasting on a national level and frequently provides color commentary on nationally-televised MLB games. Joe Morgan has had his number 8 jersey retired by the Cincinnati Reds, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.