DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies. Today, we keep in mind one in every of baseball’s nice second basemen, Joe Morgan. He died Sunday on the age of 77. There are fewer second basemen in baseball’s Hall of Fame than gamers for another place. Morgan was inducted in 1990 after taking part in 22 years within the majors, largely with the Houston Astros and the Cincinnati Reds. As a second baseman, he was recognized for his protection, however he was additionally a talented base stealer and a strong hitter, particularly for a person who was small in stature. He was 5-foot-7 and 160 kilos. Morgan was with the Reds groups of the ’70s that included Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, referred to as the Big Red Machine. Morgan was voted the National League’s most respected participant in each 1975 and ’76, main the Reds to World Series championships each years. After he retired from baseball, Morgan turned a tv commentator for ESPN for 21 seasons. Terry Gross spoke to Morgan in 1993 after he’d revealed his autobiography, “Joe Morgan: A Life In Baseball.” She requested him why there are so few second basemen within the Hall of Fame.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
JOE MORGAN: A second baseman’s essential job is to play protection and make the double play. Neither are very glamorous issues in baseball as a result of they search for folks to hit house runs, drive-in runs, do a number of nice issues. And usually, that does not come out of your second baseman as a result of they’re normally small in body and small in stature – fast ft. Quickness is their essential asset, not energy. And I added one thing to that. I hit extra house runs, I suppose, than any second baseman that is ever performed that place. So that made me a candidate for the Hall of Fame. But the actual motive is as a result of their essential jobs are protection, they usually’re not recognized for his or her offensive numbers.
TERRY GROSS: What did you want and never like about taking part in that place?
MORGAN: You know what, I am unable to consider something I did not like. I used to be very proud to have been a second baseman in that I believe it takes a particular kind of individual to play second base. The guidelines have modified a little bit bit now, however after I first got here into the league and after I performed, there have been no guidelines governing how a man might are available and knock you over. And I at all times felt it was a – actually type of a check of your character and manhood to have the ability to stand there along with your again to the runner, understanding that he will attempt to break you in half. And your first ideas needed to be make the double play first after which fear about my physique. And only a few folks can try this and do it properly. And that is why I used to be at all times proud to be a second baseman. And actually, there have been no negatives so far as I’m involved, for me, as a second baseman. I simply love the place.
GROSS: What had been your worst moments of influence?
MORGAN: I had just a few. One – 1969. I used to be stretched out to obtain a throw and Tommie Agee from the Mets hit me with a cross-body block, which is a soccer block – as I stated, there have been no guidelines then – and tore up my knee like a soccer – I had a soccer harm. I had O’Donoghue’s triad, which is the worst you’ll be able to have – worst knee harm you’ll be able to have. It’s collateral ligament cartilage. And they – simply a number of injury to your knee. And they by no means figured I’d be capable to play second base once more.
GROSS: You had been thought-about probably the most full gamers within the sport since you had an ideal hitting file, stolen bases, nice at second base – I imply, an actual all-around participant. You acquired most respected participant twice. Is that one thing that you simply consciously tried to develop, to be an all-around participant?
MORGAN: Yes, it was. I didn’t exit to be the perfect, however I wished to be probably the most full participant within the sport. And I believe I reached that objective in, you recognize, ’75, ’76, in that period. Growing up in California, my father would take me to the minor league video games, the Oakland Oaks. We would see the gamers, and my father would say, properly, he is a very good participant. He can hit, however he would not discipline very properly. He can discipline, however he would not hit. And my father at all times impressed on me to attempt to be a whole participant. So I believe I labored more durable on my protection than I did another a part of the sport. Everyone likes to hit, and normally that is the place they channel their energies. With me, I channeled my energies towards my weaknesses. If I used to be a very good hitter, which I used to be all throughout my minor league profession, however I used to be not nearly as good defensively, so I labored very exhausting on my protection. Then I labored very exhausting on my stolen bases. I did every part to make myself a whole participant.
I set – one 12 months after I – my knee was torn up, I’d sit behind house plate each single sport and charted issues about how a pitcher delivers the ball to the plate, how a catcher units up for a pitch out, how every part occurs defensively to cease you from stealing a base. So that made me a significantly better base stealer as a result of I knew every part that they might do by the point I acquired again on the sphere. And in order that helped me to be a whole participant. I used to work out day by day from 3 o’clock till 5 making double performs after which go play a sport. I sacrificed a few of my statistics that 12 months as a result of I used to be drained by the point the sport began. But I had a objective in thoughts, and I reached that objective on the finish of that season after I thought I used to be a whole participant, and I used to be a very good defensive participant by that point. So I needed to work hardest on my protection, and I used to be most likely most happy with my defensive accomplishments.
GROSS: Let’s discuss your top. You’re one of many comparatively shorter gamers…
GROSS: …From baseball – 5’7″ I believe?
GROSS: When you first acquired to the majors and, you recognize, you had been a rookie – and pitchers are at all times attempting to make the most of rookies – was it worse for you since you had been brief?
MORGAN: I believe it was a little bit bit as a result of they knew I wasn’t going to (laughter) cost the mound. You know, I used to be a small man they usually weren’t afraid of me. And they felt, you recognize, most likely they take liberties with you. But as a rookie, after I got here alongside, they examined each rookie – did not matter – as a result of they’d Leo Durocher, Gene Mauch. These kind of people had been managers, they usually at all times wished to check rookies. And I keep in mind my first sport towards Philadelphia. Chris Short was pitching. And opening day – it was my first sport within the massive leagues – and I went three for 4, you recognize. First opening day sport, I went three for 4. We performed them, like, three days later. Next day, I got here as much as bat, first inning. They began knocking me down, you recognize, throwing the ball behind (laughter) my neck and all that. And as a rookie, you higher not say something – properly, you are higher off not saying something. Some folks make waves, however I do not assume it helps them. Me, I simply took it as a part of the sport and as one thing I needed to show to my – not solely my teammates, however to the league, that Joe Morgan was right here to remain. And he was going to do no matter he needed to do to get to the top of his objectives.
GROSS: Now, you grew up close to the outdated Oakland Park.
GROSS: Did you go there – had been you in strolling distance? Could you simply stroll over there?
MORGAN: Walked over. It was a – I’ve had – you recognize, I had an ideal childhood. My mother and father at all times made certain that I used to be capable of benefit from the fruits of being a baby, you recognize? I did not should mature too shortly. I used to be not anticipated to know every part on the age of 10 or 12. I might be a child and luxuriate in, you recognize, simply take pleasure in life. We – I lived about, I’d say, perhaps eight to 10 blocks. You know, every part appears to be like greater while you’re a little bit child (laughter), you recognize, so it could have been rather less. But we walked to the stadium, to Oaks Ballpark, Oakland Oaks, the place the workforce – the house workforce within the Pacific Coast League.
And my father and my oldest sister, Linda (ph), we – I’m the oldest, however she was subsequent to me. We would stroll up. We’d eat dinner each evening at house, stroll as much as the stadium, watch the sport, come again house. I imply, it was like, you recognize – as a child, like I stated, that is the best factor might occur to you – to have the ability to go to the ballpark along with your father day by day that the workforce is on the town and to take pleasure in it and study concerning the sport and be capable to watch future main leaguers and nice gamers that you simply wish to emulate as you get older. And so I used to be capable of go to the sport day by day. And it was actually an ideal expertise that I’ll at all times treasure.
GROSS: So your father should’ve been an enormous baseball fan, too.
MORGAN: Oh, sure, my father was an enormous sports activities fan. We would go, additionally, to the San Francisco 49er video games. My father would take me every Sunday.
GROSS: Couldn’t stroll there.
MORGAN: No, could not stroll there.
MORGAN: But we – my father was a baseball participant. He performed, you recognize? But it was earlier than the colour line was damaged. And my father – and I had, like, three or 4 uncles. Two of them they assume had been ok to make it to the key leagues. But, once more, in these days – they usually grew up in a small city in Bonham, Texas, which is, you recognize, not the place you are going to discover all of your main league scouts watching anyway. But even in these days, you recognize, minorities weren’t – Blacks weren’t capable of play in main leagues.
GROSS: So did he play within the Black leagues?
MORGAN: Yes, he did. He wished – however not the the key league Black leagues. He performed in – what they did was – we had been in Bonham, Texas. There’s 20 little cities round there. And they’d leagues, you recognize, Negro Leagues. And they’d play at their, you recognize – they’d have schedules, and they’d play. And I used to be type of the bat boy at the start for my father’s workforce.
DAVIES: Terry Gross talking with baseball’s Joe Morgan in 1993. He died Sunday on the age of 77. We’ll hear extra of their interview after a break. This is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF GABRIEL MERVINE, ERIC GUNNISON, KEN WALKER, PAUL ROMAINE, PETER SOMMER AND STEVE KOVALCHECK’S “PEOPLE”)
DAVIES: Let’s get again to Terry’s 1993 interview with Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan. He performed 22 seasons, largely with the Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds. Morgan died Sunday on the age of 77.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
GROSS: When you had been scouted and you bought into the minors, you had been within the Carolina League first. You had been taking part in within the segregated South.
GROSS: And you write about the way you had been so absorbed in baseball, it took you some time to really…
GROSS: …Realize what segregation meant, what it meant in your life then. So what had been a few of the stuff you had been up towards that bothered you most throughout these days within the minors?
MORGAN: Well, after I first began taking part in skilled baseball – the place I grew up in California, you recognize, because the outdated cliche goes, a few of my finest associates had been white, a few of my finest associates had been blue, inexperienced, no matter. I imply, I simply had associates. And I did not assume in these phrases. And they did not assume that manner both. So I went to Durham. And then we went on our first street journey I suppose a few week after I’d been there, perhaps 10 days. And so we had been going to Winston-Salem.
And I drive – we had been on the bus. We drive to Winston-Salem. We go to downtown lodge. And everybody begins to get off. So I begin to get off. And the bus driver, who was Black, says, hey, wait a minute. You do not get off right here. I stated, what do you imply? I’m, you recognize, with my workforce. He stated, no, we keep in a unique part of city. And, man, now that is like, you recognize, what do you imply? This is – I’m a part of this workforce. No, you are over there.
So I sit again down. We go over to the Black group. And we stayed there. Wasn’t as – the lodging weren’t as good. I did not have any air con. But the meals was nice. So I had a good time so far as that. And that evening, you recognize, he – we’re separate rooms. He stated, let’s go. It’s time to go to the stadium. So we get within the bus. Now we return to select up all my teammates on the lodge downtown. We picked them up. And we go to the stadium. And all of us dress. And I walked out. And swiftly, every part type of turned very clear. And it was like a slap within the face. It actually woke me up.
I see an indication that claims coloured consuming fountain. Then I see one that claims white consuming fountain. I am going just a few steps additional, says white restrooms. And then it says Black – I imply, it stated coloured in these days. And now that – I believed that was dangerous, proper? So then I stroll across the fence to enter our facet of the taking part in discipline. And after I walked round to enter this discipline, the followers – there have been a number of followers in the appropriate discipline stands. And they began yelling, you recognize, clapping. And I seemed over and there have been a number of Black folks there. And they had been clapping as a result of they did not see – there weren’t any Black folks on the Durham workforce prior to now, you recognize? And right here I used to be there.
So they began clapping. And I seemed over. And I used to be very – I acquired very upset as a result of there was a display screen there. And it seemed like they had been in a cage, you recognize? It was – and, you recognize, once more, that is my notion of what I noticed. You know, perhaps it did not really feel that method to them. Maybe it did not look that method to different folks. But it seemed that method to me. It seemed like they had been in a cage. And that disturbed me fairly a bit.
And I felt like that I used to be being – I used to be serving to to – serving to this picture to proceed by taking part in in entrance of – you recognize, taking part in this sport, I used to be as responsible as everybody else. I used to be a part of this, you recognize, factor that was, actually, to me, simply downgrading to Black folks. And I stated that I used to be going to go away. I stated, I am unable to, you recognize, play and be part of this. So I left. And I went and truly referred to as and made reservations to go house. And then I performed the sport. I referred to as – my reservations had been to go away the subsequent morning to return to California.
GROSS: So you had been going to go away the entire league?
MORGAN: I used to be going to go away. I stated, you recognize, I’m – I’ve extra respect for my folks than this, than to be part of this and to be part of persevering with to, you recognize, degrade the state of affairs, simply being a component – taking part in there, to me, was a part of – I used to be part of it. So I used to be going to go away. And after the sport, I went again, packed my luggage. And I used to be leaving the subsequent morning. And the bus driver, in fact, tried to speak me out of it. And I stated, no, it is simply one thing I’ve to do.
And I suppose, you recognize, as I say within the guide, it was no – nothing like desirous about what Jackie Robinson needed to undergo or different minorities needed to undergo to assist make the nation nice. The solely factor that saved me there was having to face my father and say him that I stop. And so I made a decision to remain. But I do not assume I ever acquired over, and I do not assume I ever will recover from, the sensation I had the primary day I walked round there and I noticed all these folks. It was very devastating for me.
GROSS: So what was it like in 1990 while you had been inducted into the Hall of Fame?
MORGAN: You know, it is one thing that I’ve tried to explain within the guide. But I do not assume that I might ever do justice to it as a result of I’m not a poet. I’m not somebody who can, you recognize, have nice issues to say with their phrases and their emotions. I actually – it was like this most particular second you’ll be able to have, you recognize, so far as I’m involved.
As a baseball participant, I’d gained, you recognize, probably the most priceless participant award. I gained world championships. And I believed nothing might prime that. I believed, hey, that is like – I imply, the best way I felt after our first world championship was like – I had this sense that I used to be, like, in area or someplace. I’m, like, simply floating round. There’s nothing. There’s no different pressures. There’s no different issues on the earth. And I felt excellent, you recognize, for that first 20 minutes after we gained the World Championship.
And after I went to the Hall of Fame for the induction, it began slowly as a result of I went – I’d by no means been to the Hall of Fame earlier than. I’d by no means been up there to Cooperstown. I went a day early. I acquired a non-public tour of the Hall of Fame. And I suppose it began to construct up then. When you stroll into a spot and it is like a mausoleum – it is so quiet – it is, like, unbelievable. And you stroll in. And there are plaques with photographs of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, you recognize, Ty Cobb – all the best gamers who’ve ever lived. And then they show you the spot the place yours goes. You know, they’ll have an image of Joe Morgan there.
And, you recognize, you simply begin to – it simply begins to construct as much as know that 100 years from now, you recognize, whoever walks into the Hall of Fame will know that Joe Morgan was right here. They might not know who I used to be or care. But they are going to know that I used to be anyone particular as a result of I performed baseball. And I’ve two daughters which can be 2 years outdated. And one in every of lately, they will deliver their children there and be capable to see that. So that was most likely probably the most emotional day – as I’m now – for me, you recognize, in my life. It actually was.
And to face there, I suppose, with all the best gamers on the earth behind you who’ve ever lived – like Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Stan Musial – and to have to speak about Joe Morgan was very troublesome, as a result of in my very own thoughts, you recognize, I’ll by no means, I suppose, be capable to examine myself to Willie Mays or Stan Musial or Mickey Mantle as a result of, to me, that is after I was a child. Growing up, these folks had been, like, not actual. They had been superhuman folks. And that is nonetheless an issue for me. It actually is. And I consider myself as being – you recognize, I say that they left massive, massive footprints and I solely left a small one. But nevertheless small, while you go to the Hall of Fame, I’m sitting proper subsequent to them.
GROSS: Joe Morgan, it has been a pleasure to have you ever right here.
MORGAN: Oh (laughter).
GROSS: I thank you a large number for speaking with us.
MORGAN: Thank you very a lot. I recognize it.
DAVIES: Joe Morgan died Sunday on the age of 77. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1993. On Monday’s show historian H.W. Brands considers the query of whether or not radical, direct motion or gradual reforms are the perfect technique of reaching social change. He has a brand new guide about two nineteenth century leaders’ approaches to ending slavery, fiery abolitionist John Brown and President Abraham Lincoln. His guide is “The Zealot And The Emancipator.” I hope you’ll be able to be part of us.
(SOUNDBITE OF ERROLL GARNER’S “OUT OF NOWHERE”)
DAVIES: FRESH AIR’s govt producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham, with extra engineering help by Joyce Lieberman and Julian Herzfeld. Our interviews and critiques are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Ann Marie Baldonado, Therese Madden, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley and Kayla Lattimore. Our affiliate producer of digital media is Molly Seavey-Nesper. Roberta Shorrock directs the show. For Terry Gross, I’m Dave Davies.
(SOUNDBITE OF ERROLL GARNER’S “OUT OF NOWHERE”)
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