2020 has been a tough year all around. Between Kobe Bryant’s death, an incredibly divisive election and the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic, this year started out poorly and only got worse. For baseball fans in particular, this year has been particularly difficult.
The year started out with widespread outrage over the Astros’ cheating scandal and subsequent inadequate disciplinary measures; then bickering between the owners and Players Association led to MLB failing to seize the opportunity of being the first sport back from the pandemic, and instead saw the season postponed until late July.
In the midst of all this, the baseball world has lost some towering figures. First, Tony Fernandez, a key cog for the World Series winning Blue Jays, “The Toy Cannon” Jimmy Wynn, six time All-Star Johnny Antonelli, and Tigers franchise icon and Hall of Famer Al Kaline passed away. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they were joined by two of the greatest pitchers of all time, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson, as well as longtime stolen base king Lou Brock and Yankees legends Whitey Ford and Don Larsen, not long after. Just this week, another baseball icon sadly passed on in Joe Morgan, perhaps the greatest second baseman of all time.
Joe Morgan, a baseball lifer, came to define the game for over a half century with his work both on the field and in the broadcasting booth. A veteran of 22 major league seasons, Morgan was far and away the best second baseman of his era, as he piled up accolades like few have. A 1990 Hall of Fame inductee, Morgan accumulated a remarkable 100.5 Wins Above Replacement over his career. He also earned 10 All-Star berths, two World Series rings, two MVP awards, five Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award.
Not satisfied to simply ride off into the sunset after his playing days had wrapped up, Morgan immediately transitioned into a broadcasting career. Morgan would call numerous prime-time, playoff and World Series games alongside legends such as Bob Uecker, Gary Thorne, Bob Costas and Marv Albert. His most recent, and perhaps most notable work came as the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts alongside Jon Miller from 1990 to 2010. In addition to this, both Miller and Morgan worked their way into the hearts of youngsters around the nation as the commentary team for the MLB 2K video games in the late 2000’s.
Sadly, Joe Morgan’s health took a turn for the worse in 2015, as he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer which ultimately developed into leukemia. On 11 October, 2020, Joe Morgan passed away at the age of 77, leaving another gaping hole in the baseball world. While his death is yet another in a year that has been marked by tragedy not just in sports, but in humanity as a whole, fans may take solace in the fact that Little Joe led a full life, and he benefited more lives along the way than he could ever count.