From the late 1960s until a few years ago, when my son, Colin, bought the current baseball glove I use when we find time to toss a few on our makeshift field, I probably owned a dozen ball gloves and a catcher's mitt or two.

Some gloves have more sentimental value than others; but for practical purposes, the Joe Morgan MacGregor G11 T-web was the best fielding glove I ever put to reasonably good use. (I could pick it back in the day!)

For some background, I started playing somewhat organized Knothole League Baseball for Don Edgington's teams in the late 1960s or early 1970s. My first glove was a Revelation leather glove that, as I recall, was purchased by my parents at Town & Country Department Store.

By the time I was 11 or 12, the holes in the Revelation were betraying my fielding prowess. (My dad would counter that "It isn't the glove, it's the player; just catch the damned ball.")

For Christmas somewhere around 1972, I received a Rawlings Reggie Jackson glove, which was great for all but two fielding positions: shortstop and second base. A decent fielder could grab almost any grounder, line drive or fly ball with that glove. But if a second baseman or shortstop had to turn a double play, the glove webbing was so wide that a baseball could get stuck, thus making the relay thrown to first base an instant too late.

A few years later as a Whiteoak High School freshman in 1976, my dad gave me the Joe Morgan MacGregor G11 T-web glove. This, in all probability had something to do with the fact that I'd read an interview in either The Sporting News or Baseball Digest, in which Morgan said that middle infielders needed to use smaller gloves if they expected to turn the double play.

The switch from the Jackson glove to the Morgan glove was perfect. For four years starting every game in high school, and playing a couple years after, I used the Morgan MacGregor T-web. I still have it, along with the Revelation and Rawlings gloves and a few others in need of repair. I turned my share of DPs, too.

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While Pam and I were taking some time away this week, we learned that Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, an MVP member of the Cincinnati Reds' famed Big Red Machine, died on Sunday, Oct. 11 at the age of 77.

Morgan was a two-time National League Most Valuable Player with the Reds, a 10-time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove Award winner.

"Major League Baseball is deeply saddened by the death of Joe Morgan, one of the best five-tool players our game has ever known and a symbol of all-around excellence," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Joe often reminded baseball fans that the player smallest in stature on the field could be the most impactful."

To be fair, when the Reds acquired Morgan around 1972, I was wearing No. 19 – the same number as former Reds second baseman Tommy Helms, who was traded away. Initially, I was not a Morgan fan. I remember reading about how many stolen bases he had with Houston, albeit with a low batting average.

"He can't steal first base," I confidently predicted.

My dad said that we should give him a chance in Cincinnati. We did.

The rest, as baseball fans know, is history.

On a very cold night at Riverfront Stadium on Oct. 17, 1976 (Pam's birthday, by the way, although the year of which is best left unsaid), my dad and I watched the Reds beat the New York Yankees, 4-3, as Cactus Jack Billingham defeated Catfish Hunter.

Joe Morgan went 2 for 4 with a triple and four total bases. The Reds swept the 1976 Series in four games.

In 1976, Morgan won his second straight NL MVP. He batted .320, had 27 homers, drove in 111 runs and swiped 60 bases, while playing a flawless second base.

"Joe Morgan was quite simply the best baseball player I played against or saw,'' Hall of Fame catcher and Reds teammate Johnny Bench said.

Since I never saw Ted Williams play, I'll take Johnny Bench at his word.

"The Reds family is heartbroken. Joe was a giant in the game and was adored by the fans in this city," Cincinnati Reds CEO Bob Castellini said. "He had a lifelong loyalty and dedication to this organization that extended to our current team and front office staff. As a cornerstone on one of the greatest teams in baseball history, his contributions to this franchise will live forever. Our hearts ache for his Big Red Machine teammates."

Without assistance from steroids or banging on trash cans to alert a batter to the next pitch, I cannot think of any other Major Leaguer who far exceeded his God-given physical stature to be an unquestionable Hall of Famer than Joe Morgan.

Rest in peace, Little Joe. You will always be the greatest second baseman in Reds history.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.