CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine and the prototype for baseball's artificial turf era, has died. He was 77.
He died at his home Sunday in Danville, California, family spokesman James Davis said in statement Monday. Morgan was suffering from a nerve condition, a form of polyneuropathy.
Morgan's death marked the latest among major league greats this year: Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline.
Morgan was a two-time NL Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. A 5-foot-7 dynamo known for flapping his left elbow at the plate, Little Joe could hit a home run, steal a base and disrupt any game with his daring.
Most of all, he completed Cincinnati's two-time World Series championship team, driving a club featuring the likes of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez to back-to-back titles.
Morgan's tiebreaking single with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 7 in 1975 gave the Reds the crown in a classic matchup with Boston, and he spurred a four-game sweep of the Yankees the next season.
Morgan was the league's MVP both years. And his Hall of Fame teammates and manager readily acknowledged he was the one that got it all started.
The smallest cog in the Big Red Machine was its most valuable piece, and easily a first-ballot pick for Cooperstown.
"He was just a good major league player when it didn't mean anything," former Reds and Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson once said. "But when it meant something, he was a Hall of Famer."
In a 22-year career through 1984, Morgan scored 1,650 runs, stole 689 bases, hit 268 homers and batted .271. But those stats hardly reflected the force created on the field by the lefty-swinging No. 8.
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Theresa; twin daughters Kelly and Ashley; and daughters Lisa and Angela from his first marriage to Gloria Morgan.