Little Joe comes up big for the Reds.
First of all, we have to give some credit to Tony Perez. Trailing 3-0 entering the top of the sixth, the Big Doggie’s towering two-run shot over the Green Monster brought the Reds within striking distance before Pete Rose would tie the contest an inning later with a single to centerfield setting the stage for Joe Morgan’s greatest moment.
With the score tied at three entering the ninth inning, the Cincinnati Reds were sending up the bottom third of the order to face Red Sox reliever Jim Burton. Ken Griffey led off the inning by drawing a base on balls on a full count pitch before a sacrifice bunt by Cesar Geronimo moved him into scoring position.
Dan Driessen would be retired on a grounder to second base for the second out of inning and moving Griffey to third. Now the Reds had the top of the order coming to the plate with the potential World Series winning run just 90 feet away. Rose worked Burton to another full count before drawing a walk and putting runners at the corner for the soon-to-be MVP Joe Morgan.
Burton would jump ahead of Morgan with a 1-2 count and was one strike away from extinguishing the Reds threat. However, as Morgan has recited the story many times over the years, there was no doubt in his mind he would deliver a hit and he did exactly that.
While his single to center that dropped in front of a charging Fred Lynn would never be described as a rocket, it was enough to plate Griffey and give the Reds a 4-3 lead. Left-handed reliever Will McEnany set the Red Sox down in order in the bottom of the ninth as Cesar Geronimo camped under Carl Yaztremski’s fly ball to left-center for the final out giving the Reds their first championship in 35 years.
Baseball has been and continues to be a strange game. In what other major American sport could a 5-7, 160-pound player deliver the biggest moment in a franchise’s history? The answer is zero because there’s only one Joe Morgan.