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MLB Hall Of Famer Joe Morgan Dies At 77


Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan has died. Morgan was one of the greatest second baseman in the history of the game and a pioneer in the broadcast booth. NPR's Joel Rose has this remembrance.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Joe Morgan was a spark plug in the Big Red Machine, the Cincinnati team that dominated the 1970s and won two championships. On a team with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, Morgan won the league MVP twice. And in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, he drove in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning.


UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: And the Reds have the lead 4-3 as Joe Morgan blooped a base hit into center field.

ROSE: But at his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Joe Morgan talked about a different game-winning hit much earlier in his career, when he was just breaking into the big leagues as a teenager.


JOE MORGAN: The manager of the Phillies was so mad that when he went in the clubhouse, he yelled at his players and told them, you guys got beat by a guy that looks like a Little Leaguer.


MORGAN: Well, he was right.

ROSE: At 5 foot 7, a lot of scouts thought Joe Morgan was too short, but he proved them wrong for 22 seasons. Morgan always found a way to help his teams win with home runs, stolen bases, walks, defense and hustle plays.


MORGAN: See; for me, the game has never been about numbers. It's only been about winning.

ROSE: Morgan's career began when there were few Black players in the major leagues, and he wrote candidly about the racism he faced as a young player, especially in the South. After he retired as a player, Morgan had a second path-breaking career as a broadcaster.

JON MILLER: He was smart. He was pugnacious. He had a great knowledge of the game.

ROSE: Jon Miller was Morgan's partner in the broadcast booth at ESPN. They worked Sunday night games together for more than two decades.

MILLER: He was a pioneer - an African American baseball commentator on national television in prime time - and, in that way, a trailblazer.

ROSE: Morgan died Sunday at his home in Danville, Calif., after suffering from a nerve condition. He was 77 years old. Joel Rose, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.