CINCINNATI (AP) — The last time the core members of the Big Red Machine were assembled on a baseball field, they were celebrating their second consecutive World Series championship at the old Yankee Stadium in 1976.
Pete Rose and the rest of the starting lineup of the Reds’ back-to-back champions were together again at Great American Ball Park on Saturday for the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan.
Rose, the career hits leader whose ban from baseball usually prevents his participation in such events, was allowed to attend celebrations Friday night and Saturday by Major League Baseball.
“I want to thank Commissioner Bud Selig for allowing us to have the ‘Great Eight’ on the field last night,” Morgan said Saturday before the bronze sculpture — which depicts him just starting to steal a base — was unveiled near the main gates at the northwest corner of the ballpark complex. “It’s an unbelievable experience to be with all of my teammates.”
The location was no accident, said team owner Bob Castellini, who described the 5-foot-8 Morgan as a “little guy with a big heart.”
“We’re going to draw about 2.5 million people here,” he said. “This is the busiest corner in Cincinnati. Who better to preside over our gateway. I can think of no one better than you, Joe, to make a first impression on our visitors.”
Morgan was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1975 and 1976. He also won five Gold Gloves and was an All-Star in each of his eight seasons (1972-1979) with the Reds.
Morgan’s sculpture is the sixth at the ballpark, joining those of Joe Nuxhall, Ted Kluszewski and Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Ernie Lombardi and catcher Johnny Bench, Morgan’s teammate on the Big Red Machine.