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Joseph Leonard Morgan (September 19, 1943 – October 11, 2020) was an American Major League Baseball second baseman. Morgan was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990 with 81.76% of the ballot. Currently, he works as a color commentator for ESPN television and radio.

Playing career[]

Baseball Hall of Fame
Joe Morgan
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Morgan was signed by the Houston Colt .45s as an amateur free agent in 1962. Early in his career, Morgan 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 at the time.

Cincinnati Reds[]

He played with distinction with Houston until a multi-player trade brought him to the Cincinnati Reds in the 1972 season. 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. Morgan was also the National League MVP in 1975 and 1976.

File:Joe morgan74-85.jpg

1974 Topps baseball card #85

As a hitter, Morgan was extremely capable. While his lifetime average was only .271, he hit between .288 and .327 during his peak years with the Reds, and drew a great many walks throughout his career, resulting in a superb .392 on base percentage. He also hit 268 home runs and 545 doubles and 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 winning the Gold Glove Award from 1972 to 1976.

Later career[]

In 1980, he returned to Houston to help the young Astros to win the NL West. They did, but lost to the Phillies in the National League Championship Series. 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. 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.

In the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James named Joe 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. [1]

In 1999, he 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.



Joe Morgan, broadcaster

In his current broadcasting career, he has also been successful, winning a CableACE award in 1990 and Emmy awards for sports analysis in 1998 and 2005.

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.

Main article: Major League Baseball on ABC

From 1988-1989, Morgan served as an announcer for ABC where he helped announce Monday 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 the moment the Loma Prieta earthquake hit at 5:04 p.m.

Main article: Major League Baseball on NBC

From 1994-2000, Morgan teamed with Bob Costas and Bob Uecker to call baseball games on NBC. During this period, Morgan helped call three World Series (1995, 1997, and 1999 respectively) and four All-Star Games (1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000). Morgan had spent a previous (1986-1987) stint with NBC calling regional Game of the Week telecasts.

Main article: ESPN Major League Baseball

Currently, he 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. He is 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. His prominence as an analyst at ESPN is witnessed by the fact that during the 2006 MLB playoffs the network had Morgan, their lead baseball analyst, pull double duty by calling the first half of the Mets-Dodgers playoff game at Shea stadium before travelling across town to call the Yankees-Tigers night game at Yankee Stadium.[2]

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 notably absent during Sandberg's Hall of Fame induction and this has led to speculation that Morgan disapproved of the act. However, both former players have maintained a front of civility.[3]

Morgan and Moneyball[]

Joe Morgan is one of the more prominent critics of Billy Beane and the "Moneyball" sabermetric style of building teams which focuses on statistical analysis—often using complex calculus equations—to evaluate player performance and value, even though he has not read Michael Lewis's book Moneyball.[4] Among Morgan's statements are that he has nothing to learn about baseball from a writer or statistician who has never played the sport as a professional, and that "Anytime you're trying to make statistics tell you who's gonna win the game, that's a bunch of geeks trying to play video games." He has drawn the ire of many sabermetricians for this, who consider sabermetrics a useful tool in analyzing baseball performance.


Morgan died on October 11, 2020 at the age of 77. He suffered from a non-specified polyneuropathy in the time leading up to his death.

Career statistics[]


Other information[]


  • Major League debut: September 21, 1963.
  • Bats: Left-handed
  • Throws: Right-handed
  • Member of Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame (inducted in 1987)
  • Uniform no. 8 retired by Cincinnati Reds.
  • Authored the book Baseball for Dummies, part of the popular ...for Dummies series.


  • Morgan teamed with shortstop Dave Concepción a duo winner of four Gold Gloves, joining a select list of eight shortstop-second baseman combinations have won the honor in the same season while playing together (1974 to 1977).
  • In an article in Esquire magazine in 1976, sportswriter Harry Stein published an article called the "All Time All-Star Argument Starter," a list of five ethnic baseball teams. Morgan was the second baseman on Stein's black team.

See also[]


  1. Bill James, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (Washington: Simon & Shuster, 2001), 479-481.
  4. Craggs, Tommy (2005-07-06). Say-It-Ain't-So Joe. SF Weekly. Retrieved on 2006-08-17.

External links[]

Preceded by:
Frank Robinson
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
Most Valuable Player

Succeeded by:
Bobby Bonds
Preceded by:
Lou Brock
National League Player of the Month
April 1975
Succeeded by:
Bob Watson
Preceded by:
Bob Watson
National League Player of the Month
June 1975
Succeeded by:
Dave Kingman
Preceded by:
Steve Garvey
National League Most Valuable Player
1975, 1976
Succeeded by:
George Foster
Preceded by:
George Foster
National League Player of the Month
August 1976
Succeeded by:
Steve Garvey
Preceded by:
Bob Knepper
NL Comeback Player of the Year
Succeeded by:
John Denny