Joe Morgan Dies: Cincinnati Reds MVP, Longtime ESPN Commentator Was 77

Joe Morgan, the Cincinnati Reds second baseman who powered the team’s legendary Big Red Machine era of the 1970s before coanchoring with Jon Miller ESPN’s must-watch Sunday Night Baseball for 21 seasons, died Sunday at his home in Danville, California. He was 77.

A family spokesperson told The New York Times that the cause of death was nonspecified polyneuropathy. The Baseball Hall of Famer had a bone-marrow transplant in 2016.

Nicknamed Little Joe (he stood 5’7) and twice named National League Most Valuable Player, Morgan, along with Reds teammates Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, was a key force in the team’s World Series championships in 1975 and 1976.

“Simply the best,” tweeted Big Red Machine catcher Bench.

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“The Reds family is heartbroken,” said CEO Bob Castellini in a statement. “Joe was a giant in the game and was adored by the fans in this city. He had a lifelong loyalty and dedication to this organization that extended to our current team and front office staff. As a cornerstone on one of the greatest teams in baseball history, his contributions to this franchise will live forever. Our hearts ache for his Big Red Machine teammates.”

Following his playing years, Morgan began a broadcasting career that began in 1985, moving to ESPN in 1990. He continued as part of the network’s baseball broadcast team until 2010 when he rejoined the Reds as special adviser to baseball operations.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, “Major League Baseball is deeply saddened by the death of Joe Morgan, one of the best five-tool players our game has ever known and a symbol of all-around excellence. Joe often reminded baseball fans that the player smallest in stature on the field could be the most impactful.”

Morgan is survived by his wife of 30 years, Theresa; their twin daughters, Kelly and Ashley; and daughters Lisa and Angela from his first marriage to Gloria Morgan.

 

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