Red Sox Memories: A look at four previous managers and a new one
By Rick McNair
In the greater Boston area when you mentioned the name Joe Morgan the association was not with the Hall of Fame Morgan but “Walpole Joe.” Being a native son of the area has value and when you come up with the gritty hard baseball way in addition to a hockey background then you have the full package including star profile at Boston College. Lou Merloni has turned his creed into a post-career success that outweighs his baseball career.
Player Morgan hit just a career .193 with five teams but manager Morgan had far greater success. The usual path was followed by managing in the bushes first with the Pirates organization and then to the Red Sox organization. Along the way Moran accumulated awards, but far more important was Morgan accumulated baseball respect.
Morgan made it to Boston in the 1980s with various coaching slots after a successful run with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Morgan was a staple as the bullpen, first base, and third base coach and then when the ax fell on manager John McNamara in mid-1987 (thankfully), Morgan took over a team on the skids. Then came “Morgan Magic.” A long winning streak that saved the season.
The Red Sox gave Morgan the full-time role in 1988 and Boston went on to a dismal dismissal in the playoffs at the arms and bats of the Athletics in the American League Championship and managed to repeat the same ignominious display in 1990. Morgan and the Red Sox managed a second-place finish in 1991 and Morgan was cast aside for Butch Hobson who directed them to dead last.
Morgan was similar to Huck and Williams as a manager without the rough edges. Decisions were not based on star status, whims of management, or size of contracts. Morgan was old school in every sense relying on the most famous of managerial tools – instinct and hunches.
Morgan was adept at managing players in the new age of baseball free agency. The long years of leadership and knowledge paid dividends when it came to either veterans or young players and the team was successful – just not successful enough to prevent what happens to almost all managers be they local legends or imported ones.