Joe Morgan

Position: Second baseman
Teams: Houston Astros, 1963-1971, 1980; Cincinnati Reds, 1972-1979; San Francisco Giants, 1981-1982; Philadelphia Phillies, 1983; Oakland Athletics, 1984

Joe Morgan
Joe Morgan was the igniter of the
1970s Big Red Machine.

Little Joe made the "Big Red Machine" go. Joe Morgan is best remembered for being a catalyst for the world-champion Reds in 1975 and 1976. He also played more games at second base than anyone but Eddie Collins.

Joe Leonard Morgan was born in 1943 in Bonham, Texas, but his family moved to Oakland, California, when Joe was very young. His first hero was Jackie Robinson, but later Morgan emulated the play and determination of Nellie Fox. After attending the same high school that produced Frank Robinson, Morgan signed with the Astros in 1963. In 1964, he was the Texas League MVP, batting .319 with 42 doubles, 12 homers, and 90 RBI.

In 1965, Morgan was the Houston second baseman. Houston coach Fox taught Joe a "chicken flap" of his left elbow while taking his batting stance, to remind him to keep his elbow high. The 5970 second baseman hit .271 that year, with 14 home runs, 100 runs scored, and an NL-leading 97 bases on balls, and he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Los Angeles second baseman Jim Lefebvre.

Joe notched 89 walks in 1966 despite missing time with a fractured knee cap. In 1968, he lost almost the whole season when he tore ligaments in his knee. He returned in 1969 to get 94 runs, and had 102 runs in 1970 and 87 runs in 1971.

The Astros and the Reds tied for fourth place in 1971, and each team was looking for a change. In one of the blockbuster trades of the decade, the Reds sent second baseman Tommy Helms and first baseman Lee May to Houston for outfielder Cesar Geronimo, pitcher Jack Billingham, and Morgan.

When Joe got out of the Astrodome, his stats were enhanced. He hit 16 homers in 1972, 26 in '73, and 22 in '74. His walk totals those three years were 115, 111, and 120, and he scored 122, 116, and 107 runs.

Morgan was the only second sacker in baseball history to win back-to-back MVP Awards, in 1975 and '76. In 1975, he batted .327 with 17 homers, 107 runs scored, 94 RBI, 67 stolen bases, and a league-best 132 bases on balls as the Reds won 108 games. Morgan batted .320 with 27 homers, 113 runs scored, 111 RBI, 60 swipes, and 114 walks in 1976.

Joe was a steady fielder and won five straight Gold Gloves from 1973 to '77. He led the Reds to another playoff berth in 1979. He then moved back to Houston in 1980, again appearing in the NLCS.

In 1983, Morgan joined the Phillies and appeared in his last World Series. Joe led the NL in walks four times and runs once. He never led the circuit in stolen bases, but he finished in the top three eight times. Joe was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Here are Joe Morgan's major league totals:


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