Joe Leonard Morgan is a former baseball player and is considered to be one of the greatest second basemen of all time. He was born on September 19, 1943 in Bonham, Texas, but grew up in Oakland, California. He attended Castlemont High School where he played baseball and established an excellent reputation for himself. His nickname was “Little Joe” because he was very short in stature, approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall. After leaving high school, he became an amateur free agent and was signed by the Houston Colt .45s.
Joe Morgan played with Colt from 1962 to 1971. At the start of his career, he had some trouble adjusting his elbow to the proper height which affected his swing. One of his teammates suggested that he should flap his back arm in order to keep his elbow straight. This was valuable advice and helped Morgan with his swing. Fans often associated the flapping motion of his arms with Morgan’s appearance on the plate. In the ten seasons that he stayed with the team, Morgan had an impressive record including 72 home runs. He was selected to the All Star team first in 1966 and then in 1970. An unfortunate incident during batting practice caused him to injure his knee, knocking him out of the next 40 games.
In 1971, Morgan was traded to the team “Cincinnati Reds” along with teammates César Gerónimo, Jack Billingham and Denis Menke. Being traded to the Reds was the best thing to happen in his career and the worst decision in his former team’s history. Morgan’s deadly combination of speed and power, along with a strong batting line up in his new team took the Reds to consecutive World Series championships. From 1972 to 1979, Morgan was selected to the All Star team every single year. He was also named the National League’s Most Valuable Player for two years back to back in 1975 and 1976. He was the first second baseman in National League Baseball history to be named MVP for two consecutive years. He was also an exceptional fielder, and won the Golden Glove Award 5 years in a row from 1973 to 1977.
After a tremendous career with the Reds, Joe Morgan rejoined the Houston Colt .45s for a brief period to help them win the National League West. However, they lost the championship series. Morgan then moved to the San Francisco Giants for the next two seasons and then to the Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics for brief periods before retiring from professional baseball. In 1987, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and his jersey #8 was retired by the Reds. He also started his broadcasting career with the Reds, after which he moved to the San Francisco Giants and then Oakland Athletics. He hosted popular talk shows and worked as an announcer on ABC, NBC and ESPN as well as having his own radio show on Sports USA.
Morgan was undoubtedly one of the best players of his generation. He was named the best second baseman in baseball history by Bill James, which places him ahead of legends like Eddie Collins and Rogers Hornsby. The exact ranking between analysts differs but everyone agrees that he deserves to be counted in the list of topmost players. He was ranked No. 60 in the list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players compiled by The Sporting News. Joe Morgan also serves as a board member of an NGO called the “Baseball Assistance Team” which helps players from Major, Minor and Negro Leagues with financial and medical aid.