Joe Morgan was an invaluable member of the “Big Red Machine,” one of the most dominant lineups in Major League Baseball history.
The two-time National League Most Valuable Player led the Cincinnati Reds to back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976 and carved out a Hall of Fame career that featured 10 All-Star Game appearances, five Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger Award. His No. 8 was retired by the Reds in 1987, and he was formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.
On Sunday, Morgan passed away at the age of 77 at his home in Danville, California. He had been suffering from a nerve condition, more specifically a form of polyneuropathy.
His legacy on the game of baseball is enormous, but before he made his mark on the biggest stage, Morgan had a brief, yet memorable, stint in San Antonio.
A few months after the Bonham, Texas, native made his Major League debut with the Houston Colt .45s, Morgan found himself on Houston’s Double-A affiliate in the Alamo City in 1964. The organization currently known as the Missions had rebranded themselves as the San Antonio Bullets in 1963, a decision that was made in tandem with their new association to the parent team’s gun-themed name.
Rest In Peace Joe. In 1964, Joe had one of the best seasons in San Antonio baseball history while leading the San Antonio Bullets to a Texas League Pennant. .323 AVG, 42 doubles, 8 triples, 12 home runs, 90 runs batted in and 47 stolen bases. pic.twitter.com/eMCyTWum1J— San Antonio Missions (@missionsmilb) October 12, 2020
With the Bullets, Morgan tore up the Texas League. He posted a .323 batting average, drove in 90 runs, hit 12 home runs, stole 47 bases and was named League MVP as the Bullets won their second straight pennant. To this day, it remains one of the greatest seasons any player has had in the Alamo City’s long and storied professional baseball history.
That performance earned Morgan another call-up to the big leagues, where he would play for 22 years. He started at second base for the newly-christened Houston Astros until he was traded to the Reds as part of a blockbuster, multi-player deal in 1971.
The rest, as they say, is history.