Joe Morgan set the tone for the Reds in 1976.
I know it’s difficult to show any sort of sympathy for the New York Yankees, but during the 1976 Fall Classic it’s warranted. Joe Morgan was on the verge of winning his second consecutive MVP Award after hitting .322 and leading the NL in OBP (.444), slugging (.576) and OPS (1.020). Additionally, he collected 27 homers, 111 RBIs with 60 stolen bases.
The guy was a video game come to life and Morgan was looking to do some damage after going hitless in the NLCS sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies. Keep in mind the Phillies didn’t exactly hold Morgan down.
He walked six times in 13 plate appearances, scored two runs and swiped a base. Not bad for a hitless series. However, it was only a matter of time before the hitless streak would end, and for the Yankees, it was a harbinger for the series.
In the bottom of the first inning at Riverfront Stadium in Game 1, Yankees right-hander Doyle Alexander retired Pete Rose and Ken Griffey to start the frame when Morgan stepped into the batter’s box. After working Alexander into a 3-1 count, Little Joe blasted a home run to right field and the Reds were on the board. The onslaught had begun.
Cincinnati would capture their second consecutive World Series title in a four game sweep of the Yankees completing a perfect postseason which began with three victories in as many attempts against the Phillies. The Reds would outscore the Bronx Bombers 22-8 and would only be challenged in one game.
For Joe Morgan, it was his final Fall Classic appearance with the Cincinnati Reds and he did not disappoint. Slashing .333/.412/.712 with a homer and two stolen bases, Morgan was putting on one of his typical exhibitions. It was an incredible way to cap an exhilarating two years, however, if it wasn’t for Morgan the dream may not have been realized.