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Joe Morgan, baseball Hall of Famer and Reds second baseman, dies at 77: What is polyneuropathy?

Joe Morgan and his daughter Lisa at the ESPY Awards in
Joe Morgan and his daughter Lisa at the ESPY Awards. Pic credit: ©

Joe Morgan, a baseball Hall of Famer and member of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, passed away on Sunday at the age of 77.

James Davis, a spokesperson for the family, revealed in a statement released on Monday that Morgan died at his home in Danville, California.

The Reds and the San Francisco Giants, two teams Morgan played for, also confirmed his passing in a statement, according to CNN.

Joe Morgan’s death comes after the baseball world lost five other Hall of Famers earlier this year, including Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Al Kaline.

Joe Morgan suffered from polyneuropathy: What is the disease?

Morgan struggled with multiple health issues in the years before he died. One of the health issues he struggled with was polyneuropathy, ESPN reported.

Polyneuropathy is a disease that involves the “simultaneous malfunction of many peripheral nerves throughout the body.”

The peripheral nerves are those outside the brain and spinal cord.

The condition can be acute (with sudden, rapid onset) or chronic (developing gradually over several months or years).

The acute form can be caused by toxins released by infecting pathogens. It can also be caused by an autoimmune reaction when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues.

Toxic chemicals, such as insecticides, can also cause the acute form of the condition.

Chronic polyneuropathy can be due to several causes, including diabetes, alcohol abuse, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid gland disorders, kidney disease, cancer, heavy metal (lead, mercury, and arsenic) poisoning, and drug toxicity.

Joe Morgan death: Tributes pour in

People have been paying tribute since the news of Morgan’s death broke.

Among those who paid tribute was MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

“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,” Manfred said in a statement. “Joe often reminded baseball fans that the player smallest in stature on the field could be the most impactful.”

“The Reds family is heartbroken. Joe was a giant in the game and was adored by the fans in this city,” Giants CEO Bob Castellini also said. “As a cornerstone on one of the greatest teams in baseball history, his contributions to this franchise will live forever.”

Joe Morgan bio

Joe Morgan, widely considered among the best second basemen ever, was born in Texas in 1943 but grew up in California.

He played as a teenager at Oakland high school. He started his career with the Houston Astros (then the Houston Colt .45s) in 1963.

During a total of 22 seasons in Major League Baseball, he played for several other teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Oakland Athletics.

He is best known for his years as a member of Cincinnati’s famed Big Red Machine. He played with the team in the 1970s, alongside Johnny Bench and Peter Rose.

Morgan, nicknamed Little Joe, was a dominant figure on the field despite his small stature of five feet, seven inches.

He helped the Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine to win the National League West five times and back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.

He was a two-time World Series champ, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner, two-time National League MVP, and 10-time All-Star.

Morgan was inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame in 1987. He was also inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1998, the Reds retired Morgan’s number 8 jersey.

In 2013, Morgan was honored with a statue at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Following an illustrious baseball career, Morgan went on to become a broadcaster. He served as an announcer for ESPN, ABC, and NBC.

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