My wife and I took the short trip to Cincinnati yesterday to visit the Reds Hall of Fame and renew our annual membership. It’s a great place to visit, and the perks that the team gives members more than pays for the price of the package.
There are two very nice exhibits on display right now, one displaying autographs of almost everyone who ever wore a Reds uniform, and the second honors Joe Morgan, one of the greatest second basemen in history. Several photos can be found after the jump…
Imagine yourself as a pitcher in 1975 and 1976. Now imagine yourself visiting Riverfront Stadium to play against the Cincinnati Reds and their dangerous lineup, including Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Johnny Bench. Strike a little bit o’ fear in your heart?
I imagine American League pitchers today have that same fear when facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (or whatever they are called now) and the powerful trio of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Mike Trout. Even though Hamilton has struggled so far, I’m confident he will break out soon and the Angels will run away with the American League pennant, only to be shut down by the Reds in the World Series.
The 1972 Topps set had a great subset called “In Action.” One of the young stars missing from that set was Joe Morgan, who had been traded after the 1971 season from Houston to Cincinnati (a deal that also brought key Big Red Machine members Jack Billingham and Cesar Geronimo to the Reds). TWJ contributor Patrick decided to give the Hall of Famer his due with a custom “In Action” card that never appeared in the original 1972 set.
Keep in mind that we are only considering major league baseball when I say this: Jackie Robinson is not in the top ten. Also remember that we are not including the unquantifiable “athletic ability,” else Robinson would no doubt leap into the discussion. No, since we are only talking about statistics and awards, Robinson’s short career works against him. Now that we have established that, let’s look at the top ten second basemen in history.
The top spot goes to Rogers Hornsby (289.45), and it’s a clear victory for Rajah, scoring nearly 40 points more than Eddie Collins (250.98). Big Red Machiner Joe Morgan (247.92) is next on the list, followed by Charlie Gehringer (244.05), Nap Lajoie (236.45), Frankie Frisch (231.98), Ryne Sandberg (228.87), Rod Carew (226.78), Jeff Kent (222.25), and Roberto Alomar (219.56) rounding out the top ten.
Kent is the only non-Hall of Famer in the top ten, but he hasn’t appeared on the ballot yet. He may have to wait a few years considering how crowded the ballot will be over the next few years, but he should eventually be allowed entrance into Cooperstown. Overall, it seems the voters have done a pretty good job with this position, but that impression fades a bit when we continue down the list.
Craig Biggio was denied his reward last year, despite being a 3000-hit club member and scoring 215.79 in this project to give him the #11 spot among all second basemen. But the #12 guy is an even bigger omission. Lou Whitaker, scoring 208.57, was summarily dismissed from the ballot in his first year with only 2.9% support. When removing the awards and All-Star seasons from my project, Whitaker jumps up to #10 on the list above Alomar and Carew (Biggio also moves up the list to #8).
Photos are not being posted on the news sites as frequently as they were last year for some reason, so I yanked a few off the Reds’ Facebook page. Here’s Joe Morgan, one of our special instructors this spring. It’s pretty cool to have three MVPs in the camp…especially since one of them is still playing!
In the 1970s, the best second baseman in the major leagues played for the Cincinnati Reds. Joe Morgan was more than just the best second baseman though; he was one of the best players in the majors and is slightly underrated by fans today. B-R’s EloRater puts him at #32 all-time, while The Baseball Guru puts him at #14, behind only Eddie Collins at 2B.
Brandon Phillips, obviously, is not that good. But he is doing a great job for the Reds currently with three Gold Gloves, two straight All-Star selections, and a Silver Slugger award. I hope DatDudeBP is able to continue putting up the numbers for the Reds for a long time.
All seven men who have been honored with the retirement of uniform #8 are in the Hall of Fame, and two served as catchers for the New York Yankees.
Bill Dickey, New York Yankees
Dickey played 19 seasons in the Bronx, going to the World Series nine times (and winning eight). Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1954, his uniform number was retired in 1972 when Berra, who also wore #8, was selected for enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Yogi Berra, New York Yankees
Cal Ripken, Jr., Baltimore Orioles
Carl Yastrzemski, Boston Red Sox
Gary Carter, Montreal Expos
Joe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds
Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates
I recently completed a trade with Chewing Liquorice. For a stack of Expos, he sent back a treasure trove of Reds cards, many of which I had never seen, including a ton of Conlon cards from 1992-1994. This one commemorates one of Johnny Vander Meer‘s no-hitters…
These cards are fantastic as they help to keep the old stories alive, allowing us to learn about players that we never had the privilege to see.
There were a lot of other historical cards in the bunch, too. There were some 1991 Topps Archives, which were reprints of the 1953 Topps set. And some reprints of the 1954 Topps set, which I assume were released in 1992. They are not on my master checklist, so I will have to research them a little bit more to find out for sure, but they are exactly like the 1991 reprint set with glossy cardstock. Here’s the Ed Bailey card from that set:
All of the old players weren’t on newer or reprinted cards, though. Geoffrey threw in some fantastic vintage cards of Reds Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers, such as Wally Post, Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, and an O-Pee-Chee Joe Morgan:
I don’t remember the Action Packed baseball cards at all!
And a whole slew of George Foster awesomeness…
That last item is particularly cool. The Ted Williams Company made pogs that you could punch out and included them in their baseball card packs. This is something I have never seen before…but that just goes along with the rest of the package!
If you have some Expos to get rid off, you need to contact Chewing Liquorice and work out a deal. He’s a great trader!
OK, so he’s not actually a 2011 Red. Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is in the Reds camp this spring though…as a special instructor. He also has a car dealership in the Cincinnati area now that his broadcasting career is over.
I never liked Morgan as a broadcaster. I did not think he was a good one. I’m glad that he has moved on from that phase in his life. But if the Reds could add him as a bench coach…that might be pretty cool. My son and I shook his hand and got a photo with him last year at a special event at the Reds Hall of Fame, the first time I had ever met a National Baseball Hall of Famer (and I actually got to meet two that day, as Johnny Bench was there also) and one of the neatest things I’ve ever done, baseball-related.
I received a package from AdamE today, featuring three distinct periods of Reds history.
First, there was the Big Red Machine. Struggles preceded their mid-70s domination, and in 1970 they lost to Baltimore in the World Series…
But behind the hustle of Pete Rose…
…and the addition of the fiery Joe Morgan following the 1971 season…
…the Machine was well underway to becoming the best team in baseball. Of course, their back-to-back championships in 1975 and 1976 are still the peak of the modern franchise, but it wasn’t their last trip to the Series.
In 1990, led by manager Lou Piniella, the Reds once again took center stage and wiped out the heavily-favored Oakland A’s in a 4-game sweep.
I’m 99.9% sure this card is supposed to depict Sweet Lou, as the back makes reference to Marge Schott and her dog, Schottzie, and the fleas and the “presents” that Schottzie was known to leave on the artificial turf at Riverfront Stadium.
The third era represented in this trade package is the current era. Drew Stubbs, the team’s current center fielder, is a guy who is primed to have a break-out season. With all the attention on the big-money boys Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, Stubbs can quietly do his thing and contribute in a big way without a big fuss.
Thanks for the cards, Adam! I’ll have a package of BoSox out to you shortly!