Joe Morgan On Life After Sunday Night Baseball “I’m not sure what I want to do in that direction yet.”
by Steven Cuce
For twenty-one years baseball fans tuned into their television sets to hear the voices of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan analyze and break down everything there was to be told in Major League Baseball. This broadcast tandem worked together for what seemed to be an eternity when looking at it from a business prospective of broadcasting. Some die-hard baseball fans will remember Joe Morgan as the talented, left-handed batting, 10-time All Star, 2-time World Series Champion, Hall of Fame second basemen for the “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds under Sparky Anderson during the mid-1970′s. Other die-hard baseballs fan who dare I say are thirty years or younger will forever categorize Morgan as the broadcaster who should have been out of the booth a long time ago because he lost it somewhere along the way.
Some baseball fans have been offended by Morgan’s antics whether it be him despising the sabermetric approach or telling stories that may not have happened. Morgan even became an internet phenomenon because so many people had enough of him over the years in the booth. The bigger question looming is the fallout for Joe Morgan after twenty one years in broadcasting. What is next on his plate? Joe Morgan joined KJR in Seattle with Mike Gastineau and Hot Shot Scott to discuss Sunday Night Baseball coming to an end and was he going to miss working with Jon Miller, does he have any plans yet for the future in terms of broadcasting, what made the “Big Red Machine” so tough to handle throughout the 1970′s, how close was he with former manager Sparky Anderson before he passed away and where did he get that habit come from where he would flap his back elbow a little bit as he waiting for the pitch before it came in the batters box.
Sunday Night baseball is not going to be the same without you in the booth alongside Jon Miller and I’m not saying that to kiss up to you. All good things must come to an end. How much are you going to miss working with Jon Miller?
“Well we worked together for a long time and Jon [Miller] and I are good friends. You know we’ll still see each other because we both live on the West Coast here. Jon[Miller] lives over near San Francisco and I live on the East Bay, but we had a good time over the years and hopefully we were able to bring the game to the fans and they enjoyed it. Like you said everything comes to an end. It’s time for everybody else to move on.”
So you’re going to move on here. You’re young enough. Do you have any plans yet in terms of working in broadcast?
“Uhhh…I’m not sure what I want to do in that direction yet. I actually work for the Reds. I’m a special advisor to the Cincinnati Reds. I help them with their personnel and help them in the marketing department and help them in their community relations. A lot of different things. I also just opened up a Honda dealership in Cincinnati “Joe Morgan Honda,” so I’ll be working there with that. I got a few other business things here in the Bay Area where I live, so I’m still going to be busy. In fact I’m trying to find a way to slow down a little bit more ha ha.”
What made the “Big Red Machine” so tough to handle for opposing teams throughout the 1970′s looking at the back-to-back World Series Champions years of 1975-and-1976?
“Well I think the big difference is a lot of people don’t give give him enough credit and that’s Sparky Anderson. He [Sparky Anderson] was able to get all the guys pointed in the same direction and remember you know we had Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, George Foster, Joe Morgan. We had all different personalities and they’re small personalties and Sparky [Anderson] was able to keep everybody together and on that same wave length and after awhile we all realized that we needed each other to be great. You know to have a great team. We did things, we gave up our own individuality to make the team better. You know I could have stolen a few more bases at times. I think Bench [Johnny] could of hit a few more home-runs, but there was a time for a single to right stuff like that and he did it. So I think we all gave up a little bit of ourselves to make the team better and I think that’s what made it such a great team because we all knew what we were supposed to do. You know I’ve often said we were not Phi Beta Kappas off the field, but on the field we were because we knew exactly what we were suppose to do at all times.”
How close were you with former manager Spark y Anderson at the end here? How much did you see of him before he passed away?
“I stayed to close to him. We’d pick up the phone and call each other cause our families were close. My mom was always close to him. [Sparky Anderson] The great thing about Sparky [Anderson] he got that one last hoorah so to speak. He went to the Hall of Fame ceremony last year in July and we all had a chance to you know sit around, talk, hug each other and talk at all the festivities up there. So it was kind of his last hooray cause I first wondered I know he hadn’t been feeling well because I had talked to him [Sparky Anderson] earlier. All of sudden he said “I’m coming,” and I’m thinking okay you want to make that long trip. It’s a very difficult trip from California to Albany. I mean to Cooperstown you go through Albany and then you know get to Cooperstown. Then you get there and they said Sparky is coming and he showed up and we all had a good time. We all had our final pictures together. Actually there’s a party the night before on Friday night, two days before the ceremonies. We all spent time together there at the party. You know Bench [Johnny] of course was there, Perez [Tony] and myself were all there with Sparky and we all had a great time you know just spending time together. That was kind of our last time seeing him. I called him and we talked when he got home, but then he started to deteriorate pretty quickly. In Cooperstown he had a great time.”
For people who don’t know, but they have to. Where did that habit come from where you would flap your back elbow a little bit as you waiting for the pitch right before it came. Where did that come from?
“Well it started to remind me to get my elbow away from my body. I didn’t want it there and I had a bad habit of getting my elbow too close to my body where I’d drop my back shoulder and hit a lot of fly balls. At the old Astrodome you didn’t want to do that if you were a little guy. So what we really did was…Nellie Fox was one of my idols. I had two idols as a kid as major league players. Jackie Robinson of course and Nellie Fox. Those were my two idols growing up and Nellie was a player-coach at the Astros [Houston] my rookie year. We talked about it and we came up with an idea to just remind myself to you know get my elbow away from my body. The next thing you know it’s part of my swing. I had forgotten about it because we had such great success the first time we did it. For two days we did it and after that I was going to stop I thought, but after about two-three days it just became a habit and I couldn’t get rid of it. That was to get my elbow away from my body. If you play golf and you’re right-handed you keep that right elbow in. That gets the ball in the air and I was hitting to many fly balls for a little guy in the Astrodome.”