Early the next day at his second home, in Arizona, Bob Howsam picked up his morning newspaper and saw what he thought was a misprint. The box score showed a 6--1 Reds win. It also showed Pete Rose playing third base. He called up Chief Bender.
"I see Rose at third," he said. "That's a mistake, isn't it?"
"No, Bob," Chief said. "Sparky put him at third base."
"Oh, my God," Howsam said.
CINCINNATI, JUNE 8, 1975
Joe Morgan had that feeling. He was about to change a game again. Lots of people around baseball despised Joe Morgan. They thought him arrogant. And, hey, not everybody on the Reds loved Joe either. Ken Griffey and George Foster, for instance, thought him distant. He spent much of his time off the field alone in his room, listening to jazz, reading the adventure comic books that allowed him to escape. "George and I kept waiting for him to take us under his wing," Griffey would say years later. "But it never happened."
Still, they could not help but admire the way he played baseball. Joe had no weaknesses. If Pete had learned ferocity from his father, then Joe had learned completeness from his own. Leonard Morgan had played semipro baseball, and he told his son that the secret to success was the ability to do everything well. They would go to minor league baseball games in Oakland, Leonard and Joe and his sister Linda, and the father would express his disdain for those players who hit home runs but did not seem to care about their defense or those who could run fast but did not seem to take pride in their hitting. "Be everything," Leonard would say.
He really could do everything. Joe could beat teams in more ways than anyone else. Take 1974. Joe had a .427 on-base percentage, which led the league. While Joe had never batted .300—which was what the fans and reporters mostly cared about—he had reached base more than 40% of the time in each of his three seasons with Cincinnati. He drew 120 walks in 1974, second most in the league. He stole 58 bases, third in the league. He hit 22 home runs. He won the Gold Glove for his defense at second base. And his mind? "Smartest player I ever coached," Sparky gushed endlessly to reporters.
On this day in 1975 the Reds trailed Chicago 1--0, seventh inning, first game of a doubleheader, and Cubs pitcher Rick Reuschel had allowed just one hit, a little ground ball up the middle by Geronimo. Reuschel was overpowering the Machine. Morgan worked Reuschel for a walk.