Monday, June 14, 2021

Brock, Gibson, Morgan: Losses for Black baseball family.

October 23, 2020 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( The 2020 World Series has begun. In an unusual year, there is actually stability with the top team in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers, taking on the top team in the American League, the Miami Marlins. Although the 2020 baseball season will be marked by the shortened season due to COVID-19, it will also be marked by the deaths of some Hall of Famers in Major League Baseball history such as Tom Seaver and Whitey Ford. Unfortunately over the period of of September 6, 2020 until October 11, 2020, the game of baseball lost three more all-time greats in Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and Joe Morgan. The passing of these baseball luminaries is even more pronounced as they were Black baseball stars during a time when baseball was truly considered “America’s pastime”.

Lou Brock was an outfielder who was known for the stolen base. He led the National League in steals every year but one between 1966 and 1974. He retired as the all-time stolen base leader and was an important part of a new, exciting brand of baseball. Although Rickey Henderson has since broken Brock’s record, no one has passed Brock for second place on the all-time steals list. It is important to mention that Brock’s production was not limited to the regular season as he hit .439 in the two consecutive World Series in 1967 and 1968 that were both won by the St. Louis Cardinals. He also collected over 3,000 hits and six All-Star Game appearances in his career and became a first-ballot Baseball Hall of Famer in 1985.

Bob Gibson & Lou Brock

Less than a month after the passing of Lou Brock, one of his former teammates, Bob Gibson, also passed away in 2020. While Brock was a leader for the Cardinals on offense, Gibson led the Cardinals’ pitching staff. Bob Gibson spent his entire incredible professional baseball career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. One of the most intimidating and successful pitchers in history, his accolades include being a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, and the National League Most Valuable Player in 1968. Gibson was so dominant that Major League Baseball lowered the mound the season after he won the NL Cy Young and NL MVP awards. While earning two World Series MVPs and a place on the MLB All-Century Team in 1999, it is not surprising that Bob Gibson is considered a top 10 pitcher in baseball history by virtually all baseball experts.

Joe Morgan did not play with the St. Louis Cardinals like Lou Brock and Bob Gibson but he left a mark forever in baseball in memoriam. Like Brock and Gibson, Morgan won on baseball’s biggest stage, the World Series. Morgan was arguably the most famous name of “Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine”, the nickname for the great Cincinnati Reds teams of the past. In the Reds’ back-to-back World Series championship years in 1975-76, Morgan won back-to-back MVP awards in the National League, as well as two of his five consecutive Gold Glove Awards.  Despite his small size, there were very few weaknesses for Morgan as a second baseman. Morgan could steal bases, had an impressive slugging percentage as a hitter, and had a high baseball IQ. When you are considered the best of all-time at your position, you are special and that was Joe Morgan.

Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and Joe Morgan were all first-ballot into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which speaks to their fantastic careers. It is also worth noting that much of their baseball careers were during the 1960s and they were Black men with darker complexions than others who excelled despite America’s open hostility to Black people. Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier over a decade before they all entered baseball but that doesn’t mean life off-the-field was easy and kind to Black baseball players. All sports fans, especially Black sports fans, should educate themselves and salute the loss of three baseball giants.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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