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Baseball's Joe Morgan Dies At 77

Joe Morgan began his major league career in Houston.
Baseball Hall of Fame
Joe Morgan began his major league career in Houston.

I suppose you could say that no one survives the March of Time, which takes no prisoners.

We all will exit this good Earth. Today, we lost a son of Northeast Texas, a fellow who went on to achieve a considerable amount of fame and glory on the field of play.

I refer to Joe Morgan, who died at age 77. He was a native of Bonham, the city that also produced the legendary Sam Rayburn, who achieved his own form of greatness in the world of politics and public service.

But you know, it could be said as well that Joe Morgan, the great second baseman for the Big Red Machine of the 1970s – aka the Cincinnati Reds – himself performed a public service. He entertained over the span of time literally millions of baseball fans who came to the ballpark to see Morgan either play for them or against their team.

Morgan started his big-league career just down the road a bit from his hometown, playing for the Houston Astros from 1963 to 1971. Then he found his way to Cincy, where he became part of the fabled Big Red Machine, joining future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Perez and others to form a potent hitting lineup.

Morgan was an eight-time All-Star while playing for the Reds.

"The Reds family is heartbroken. Joe was a giant in the game and was adored by the fans in this city," Reds CEO Bob Castellini said. "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."

Morgan developed a kind of quirky habit while facing pitchers that became the talk of announcers covering the game. He would flap his left arm against his side as a reminder, he would say, to keep his hands and arms in proper position while he took his cuts. Hey, it worked well for him.

He played 22 seasons mostly for the Reds and Astros, and after that headed for the ESPN broadcast booth were he became the lead announcer for the sports network’s baseball coverage. He had a resonant voice that enable him to impart his vast knowledge of the Grand Old Game to TV viewers.

And so, he is now gone. Indeed, we have had a tough stretch in the past bit of time, losing five Hall of Famers: Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson all have passed from the scene … along with Joe Morgan.

Thanks for the memories, Joe.

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.

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