MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred described Morgan as a “symbol of all-around excellence” and said he was one of the best “five-player” of the game ever, which means he excels at hitting, hitting hard, running, pitching and throwing.
The All-Star was inducted 10 times into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the National Baseball Hall of Fame three years later. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Hall Board of Directors from 2000 until his death.
Eight seasons and eight All-Star Awards
Although he has played for several teams, including Giants, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland S’s, he is best known for his time alongside Hall of Fame player Johnny Pinch and Cincinnati’s Hit King Pete Rose.
Because of its dominance in the 1970s, the team dubbed the Big Red machine. The Reds won the Western National League titles in five of Morgan’s eight seasons with the team and went on to win World Championship titles in 1975 and 1976. Morgan was named Best Player in the National League in both seasons.
Nicknamed “Little Joe” due to his stature at 5 feet 7 feet, he was amazingly powerful for his size and regularly earned extra bases, scoring 449 doubles and 96 triples to match 268 home hits.
Among the many accolades that Morgan has won, there were eight consecutive all-star seasons from 1972 to 1979, which was his entire Reds career. His trusted training also earned him five straight golds, all with the Reds. He started working as a special advisor to the team in 2010.
Following his playing career, Morgan went on broadcast and not only called up matches for three of his former teams – Reds, Giants, and As – but he also served as a national broadcaster for ABC, NBC, and ESPN. It called for three World Championships, several playoff games, the 1989 College World Series Championship, and the 2006 Little League World Series Championship.
As Morgan Manfred advised, the Commissioner had always welcomed his point of view, he said.
“He was a gentleman who cared about our game and the values it represented,” said Manfred. “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathy to Joe Teresa’s wife, his family and his many friends at our sport and fans of Cincinnati and everywhere his 22-year career has taken him, and all those who admired perhaps the best second base man who ever lived.”
The Houston Astros – where Morgan began his career in 1963, when the team was known as the Houston Colt .45s – mourned his departure as a “heavy loss” for the sport.
“Joe Morgan was a true superstar in every sense of the word. In the early part of his career, he was one of our first stars, the cornerstone of the Houston .45s Colt and Astros, and a big reason for the franchise’s success. His contributions will never be forgotten,” said the Astros statement .
Morgan is regularly mentioned between Jackie Robinson, Rogers Hornsby and Eddie Collins in the debate over who was the absolute best in the midst of diamonds.
CNN’s Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.