Big Little Joe.

What is going on?

Four Hall of Famers have now died in the last six weeks.

First Tom Seaver. Then Bob Gibson. Then Whitey Ford. And yesterday, Joe Morgan. Nothing tells you that you are getting old yourself when your find out your heroes are not immortal.

While I wasn’t a Cardinals or Yankees fan growing up, I had all the respect for Gibson and Ford. Tom Seaver and Joe Morgan were a different story.

Growing up a Reds fan, I had the pleasure of having both Seaver and Morgan on my team. The team was mine. They were mine.

Seaver joined the Reds in 1977, immediately after they had won two straight World Series, sweeping the Yankees in 1976. His acquisition was going to make Cincinnati’s dynasty a long and fruitful one. But even though he went 14-3 with a 2.34 ERA after coming over to the Reds mid-season, and was an ace his entire stay in a Cincinnati uniform, the Reds never achieved the dominance they enjoyed before he arrived there. They went to the playoffs only one year Seaver was a Red, losing his only playoff series with the team.

Joe Morgan was another story. The Reds would have never been THE REDS without Joe Morgan. With that powerhouse lineup that included Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey, and Pete Rose, the Reds were underachievers, losing the World Series in 1970 and not even making the playoffs in 71.

Cincinnati traded for the 5-foot, 7-inch Morgan in 1972 and everything changed. Even though they lost to the Athletics in the World Series that year, you could tell Morgan was the fuel that fired The Big Red Machine.

He had had ten good seasons with the Astros before coming to the Reds. An All-Star twice in those ten years. Then he took his game to another level.

With all the future Hall of Famers that Cincinnati team had, it was Joe Morgan’s two MVP seasons in 1975 and 1976 that wrapped the bow on the Reds World Championships in ’75 and ’76.

He played eight seasons with the Reds. Eight All-Star appearances. Two MVP. Two other top-four MVP seasons. Five Gold Gloves.

The Reds made him an All-Star and a Hall Of Famer. He made the Reds legendary. Thanks for the memories, Joe Morgan.