June 18, 2009

Seriously, Fire Joe Morgan

Last Sunday night, after the Cardinals had broken up Cliff Lee's bid for a no-hitter in the eighth inning, Joe Morgan told a story:
[O]ne of my great experiences when I was a young player. Don Wilson was pitching a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves. They had Orlando Cepeda, Rico Carty, Felipe Alou and Hank Aaron, of course. And they got to the ninth inning, he got two outs, no one on base, and Hank Aaron was the hitter. And in my infinite wisdom, I ran in to the mound. I said, "You know, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Hank Aaron walked right here. He said, "Get back to second base." I proceeded to go back to second base. He threw three fastballs right by Hank Aaron. No-hitter.
Cool story.

Too bad it never happened.

Well, Wilson did throw a no-hitter against the Braves and Aaron did strike out to end the game (June 18, 1967) ... but Morgan watched the entire game from the bench.

Telling tall tales about his playing career is nothing new to Morgan.

Two years ago, Morgan spun a yarn about his major league debut with Houston. It was against the Phillies in 1964, when the Phils were busy blowing their National League lead. Morgan's RBI single beat the Phillies during the historic tailspin, causing manager Gene Mauch to overturn the clubhouse buffet table, screaming that his club had been beaten by "a Little Leaguer"!

Again -- not close and no cigar.

Phil Mushnick of the Post noted:
... the Phillies played the Reds, Braves and Cardinals during that losing streak; Houston wasn't in the mix.

Furthermore, Morgan, though called up in 1964, did not have an RBI that season for Houston.

And he did not make his big-league debut in '64, either. That came Sept. 21, 1963, when he went 0-for-1, pinch-hitting against the Phillies. The next day, Morgan did have an RBI single to beat the Phillies, but those Phillies were well out of the race and not in the throes of a historic collapse; they'd actually won four of their previous five games.
Morgan has also told false stories about Ernie Banks.

11 comments:

bwsmith25 said...

Ahh - the great Joe Morgan. Making baseball fans mute ESPN since 1990.

Of all the retired baseball players, is there really no one out there that ESPN could consider bringing in to replace Morgan? Geez.

s1c said...

Hey lay off Joe he was just "dazed and confused".

efd said...

You know, I was watching that game and as soon as Morgan told that story my first thought was that it wasn't true. (Which of course is exactly what one would want in an announcer, isn't it?)

I made an (admittedly half-hearted attempt) to confirm my suspicion online, but got distracted and didn't bother pursuing it. Glad Deadspin did, and that you posted it.

blogtard said...

Well, at least he waited until the no-hit bid was busted up....

CaKeY said...

Speaking of former players as announcers, I really wish NESN would bring in Bill Lee for a few games. I think he'd be VERY entertaining.

redsock said...

I should note that I do not think Morgan is lying. I think he truly believes that what he is saying actually happened.

And he'd probably be totally shocked if he knew that any ol' fan can check out the facts of his story in less than a minute.

Gareth said...

These Morganisms annoy me as much as anyone, but at the same time it's difficult for me to come down too hard on him because it's such a human failing. Because he literally believes some of these stories, well-worn by time, there's no obvious reason for him to think of checking them. We all do this the whole time: my brothers and I have different memories of events, and we're all certain we're right (and in a sense we are). I'm quite certain I've made professional flubs for the same reason in accounts of past activities; I guess that the argument that it's his job doesn't get me as worked up as some people.

I'm much less forgiving of his many inaccuracies about currently active players rather than his memories, however hazy, of his own playing days; that's just unprofessional.

9casey said...

Morgan played in Wilson's other no hitter on May 1 , 1969...but no Aaron oddly enough it was against the Reds....

Zenslinger said...

Phrases like "I'm pretty sure that..." can be useful. I use them, even when teaching and there's some pressure to always be certain of what you're saying (as in broadcasting).

I mean, recalling going up to the mound to speak to Wilson when he was probably just sitting on the bench thinking about how Wilson might rather walk Aaron betrays an element of unconscious self-aggrandizement.

Pepe Lepew said...

I really don't pay much attention to announcers and I have a hard time getting worked up about announcers, but there are two who really, really get on my nerves -- Morgan and Bill Walton (And Walton has more or less disappeared). I think Zenslinger hit the nail on the head by "self-aggrandizement." What bugs me about Morgan isn't that he's making stuff up about his playing days, is that sometimes, he's just flat wrong about stuff going on during the game ... and then when called on it by Jon Miller or someone else, he just refuses to back down. For instance, earlier this year, Youk made what I thought was a fairly spectacular dig of a bad throw at first play. Jon Miller said something to the effect, "Wow, what a great play!" and Morgan just sort of said, "No, that was an average play." They showed multiple replays of Youk's dig and on every replay, his play kept looking more and more spectacular. But, Morgan just wouldn't admit that he hadn't seen it right the first time. He refused to budge an inch. I felt like screaming at the TV "Just admit you didn't see it!!! and give Youk credit for making a great play!!!" He just comes across as a very stubborn and contrarian person (like Walton). I think half the time he says stuff, he doesn't even mean it. He just likes being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. I can't stand those kind of people. Maybe that's why he bugs me so much.

andy said...

This is ESPN, throw some millions at Vin Scully.