Bay Area mourns loss of baseball legend Joe Morgan; 77-year-old died at Danville home

DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Tributes are pouring in, for Hall of Fame baseball player and East Bay resident Joe Morgan. He died at his Danville home Sunday night, at the age of 77.

Morgan is best known for his time with the Cincinnati Reds, but he also played for both the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants.

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Those who knew the Bay Area baseball legend say he was the embodiment of beating the odds.

"People are always telling you you can't do this, you can't do that," said Oakland's Nate Oliver, who knew Morgan well and played against him in the 1960s and early '70s.

Just 5 foot 7 inches, Morgan made his way onto baseball's biggest stage. He didn't just make it to "The Show," he left his indelible Hall of Fame stamp on it.

"He was a very exciting individual. He had all the skills," said Oliver. "He could run. He could hit. He could throw. He could hit for power. And he was just a lot like Willie Mays in that he was always a half a step ahead of everybody else."

After Morgan's death, the A's issued this statement:

"We are beyond saddened by the passing of Joe Morgan. A trailblazer on and off the field, his impact on our sport and community will be felt for generations to come in Oakland."

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The Giants posted a video of Morgan hitting a crucial home run against the Dodgers in 1982.

Morgan was born in Texas but attended Oakland's Castlemont High School, where he excelled in three sports, including baseball, but he was not highly recruited.

"Coaches and managers don't want to take a chance," said longtime Bay Area sportswriter Art Spander, who says Morgan overcame his short stature with his incredible skill set and his commitment to maximize every play, every day.

"I remember he once told me, 'One of the things after you hit the ball, where guys will stand and watch where the ball went, I just run,'" said Spander, paraphrasing Morgan. "'If I'm going to first base, I'll be there.'"

And while Morgan went on to a successful broadcast career, his greatest legacy will always be what he did on the field.
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