Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, a key member of the Cincinnati Reds‘ famed Big Red Machine, died Sunday. He was 77.
Morgan died at his home in California, a family spokesman told The Associated Press on Monday.
He had struggled with various health issues in recent years, including a nerve condition, a form of polyneuropathy.
Morgan was a two-time National League Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove Award winner. He is widely regarded as one of the best second basemen in baseball history and also gained renown for his 25-plus years as a broadcaster after his playing career.
He spent the majority of his 22-year career with the Reds and the Houston Astros franchise. Along with Pete Rose and fellow Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, Morgan helped the Reds win back-to-back World Series championships in 1975 and 1976. Cincinnati also reached the World Series in 1972, Morgan’s first year with the Reds.
The Reds are heartbroken to learn of the passing of baseball legend Joe Morgan. pic.twitter.com/zBoQ2gHZys
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) October 12, 2020
“The Reds family is heartbroken. Joe was a giant in the game and was adored by the fans in this city,” 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.”
“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.”
Morgan was the NL MVP in 1975 and 1976 and also was named an All-Star in each of his eight seasons with the Reds. He was a .271 career hitter with 268 home runs, 1,133 RBIs, 1,650 runs scored and 689 stolen bases, 11th-most in baseball history.
Morgan first played in the majors in 1963, when the Astros were the Houston Colt .45’s. He was traded to Cincinnati in November 1971 as part of an eight-player deal and played the next eight years with the Reds.
After spending the 1980 season with Houston, Morgan also played with the San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics late in his career before retiring after the 1984 season at the age of 41.
Morgan was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.
He started his broadcasting career in 1985 and worked at ESPN from 1990 to 2010, serving as a member of the network’s lead baseball broadcast team. 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 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 his wife of 30 years, Theresa; their twin daughters, Kelly and Ashley; and daughters Lisa and Angela from his first marriage to Gloria Morgan.
Morgan is among several Hall of Famers who have died this year, a list that includes Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline.