JOE MORGAN by Joe Morgan

JOE MORGAN

A Life in Baseball
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Acutely intelligent baseball memoir by retired second-baseman Morgan, now a commentator for ESPN, and freelance baseball writer Falkner (The Short Season, 1986). Although a pipsqueak by baseball standards, at 5'7'' Morgan still towered at the plate and on the field: two consecutive MVPs, 2518 career hits, a Hall-of-Famer during his first year of eligibility. He spearheaded Cincinnati's Big Red Machine, one of the greatest teams ever assembled, playing alongside Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez. Morgan covers all the anticipated highlights--meteoric rise through the minors; early seasons with the hapless Colt 45s; the great years with the Reds, including the legendary 1975 World Series against Boston (in which five games were each decided by one run); the gentle decline. Morgan enthuses about his fellow players with opinions both delightful and curious (picking Mays rather than Ruth as ``the greatest player who ever lived''; calling Pete Rose ``smart as a fox''). His anecdotes sparkle, and often display an admirable humility, as in his first at-bat against legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax: ``It was one of those defining moments when one part of my life seemed to slip away while another suddenly settled into place: that is, until Koufax threw his first pitch. I never saw it. I literally heard it go by me.'' But for all this gravy, the meat lies in Morgan's astute analysis of baseball's current woes. One is racism, and Morgan (who is black) talks sharply about bias in the game before urging, as one possible solution, black ownership of teams. Another is the level of play, which Morgan believes has slipped badly in the last 20 years. He calls for more tutoring of rookies by vets, and for the creation of a new executive position, a ``roving ambassador'' who will mend rifts between players, management, and the commissioner's office. Morgan doesn't say it, but there's little doubt that he's the man for the job. A winner all the way. (Photographs)

Pub Date: April 26th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03469-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993