Inside Pitch

Nov. 24, 1976: Joe Morgan wins second straight NL MVP


November 22, 2010

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan won the 1975 National League MVP Award after he hit .327 with 17 home runs, 94 RBI and 67 stolen bases. When he topped those numbers the following season, the Baseball Writers' Association of America made Morgan the second repeat winner in NL history, 34 years ago this week.

Morgan led the Cincinnati Reds to a second straight World Series title in 1976 when he hit .320 with 60 stolen bases and established career-highs with 27 home runs and 111 runs batted in. Morgan joined Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks, who won the award in 1958-59, in winning back-to-back NL MVP Awards.

Joe Morgan was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

“When I was a kid growing up around here (Oakland), I used to dream about being a player like Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Nellie Fox and Ernie Banks,” Morgan said. “In my mind they were the best, and I always wanted to be the best.”

American League players who had been repeat winners of the award up to that point were Detroit Tigers pitcher Hal Newhouser, Philadelphia Athletics first baseman Jimmie Foxx and the New York Yankees trio of Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

Since 1976, five more players have repeated as MVP: Barry Bonds (1992-93, 2001-04), Dale Murphy (1982-83), Mike Schmidt (1980-81), Frank Thomas (1993-94) and Albert Pujols (2008-09). Morgan is the only second baseman on the list and is also the only player to add World Series rings to his hardware in both seasons.

Morgan won the award in a landslide both times, gathering 21½ of 24 first places votes in 1975 and 19 of the 24 votes in 1976. The other five first place votes in ’76 went to Reds teammate George Foster.

Foster won the following season as Cincinnati dominated the NL MVP Award in the 1970s. Morgan and Johnny Bench each won twice, while Foster and Pete Rose won once each.

Morgan also won The Sporting News Player of the Year Award in his MVP seasons, the first player repeat as winner of the TSN award since Ted Williams in 1941 and 1942.

Morgan earned all-star selections twice with the Houston Astros from 1963-1971, but his career took off when the Astros traded him to Cincinnati after the 1971 season. In his first year with the Reds, he set career highs in batting average, home runs and RBI.

While with the Big Red Machine, he won five straight Gold Glove Awards, the two MVP Awards and was selected to eight consecutive All-Star Games while leading the Reds to three NL pennants.

Finishing his career with stints in Houston, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Oakland, Morgan was voted Comeback Player of the Year after a 1982 season in which he hit .289 with 14 home runs and 61 runs batted in.

Another distinction Morgan holds is being one of two second basemen to win multiple MVP Awards. The other is Rogers Hornsby.

The BBWAA voted Morgan into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, his first year of eligibility, and the Reds retired his No. 8 in 1998.

The Hall of Fame is home to a number of Morgan artifacts, including one of his gloves and the bat he used on June 14, 1984 to hit his 265th career home run, a then-record for second basemen. Both pieces are in the exhibit entitled “The Game: 1970-2000.”

Chris Blake was the 2010 publications intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum


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