Morgan in newest class of Sox Hall

Morgan in newest class of Sox Hall

BOSTON -- When he looked at the talent compiled by the Red Sox management last winter, former skipper Joe Morgan came to only one conclusion.

"I thought they'd win the division," he said before Thursday's game with the Twins at Fenway, mere steps from the dugout perch he held as Red Sox manager from 1988-91. "With the good defense they had, and pretty good pitching ..."

But then he thought about it and realized the last two months has been anything but ordinary, including a rash of injuries and medical issues rarely seen in recent team history.

Asked if he thought it might be some sort of record, Morgan didn't hesitate -- chiming in with typical "Walpole Joe" wit.

"By far, never happened in the history of the game, that we know of ... unless it was 1906. You guys didn't keep all [those records] then," he quipped.

If anyone can sympathize with the last two months endured by current manager Terry Francona, it's Morgan.

"He's done as good as he could, under the circumstances," said Morgan, who called Jason Varitek's injury the most significant this year. "Every day was something."

Morgan, who spent 18 years in the Boston organization as a Minor and Major League manager and coach, once again recalled his club's glorious 12-game winning streak in 1988 to start his big-league managerial career. That streak sparked the Red Sox to the American League East crown.

"Let's put it this way," Morgan said. "Who won 11 in a row? Does anyone know? I played for the guy, in Milwaukee. Fred Haney won 11 in a row. First of all, to win that many games, you have to have a real good team. Most of the times a manager gets fired, they have a lousy team and they might win a couple. I hope the record is never broken. You have to be selfish sometimes. It will be a long time, I think."

There was a time during that streak when Morgan realized he had degree of security in his new job.

"I'd have to say the sixth game," Morgan recalled. "When I took over, I figured we had an 11-game homestand. I said, 'I've got to win at least seven of these games if I'm going to stick around.' After the sixth game that [Todd] Benzinger won that night [on a home run around Pesky Pole in extras], the next day I was given a contract for the next year. That's about the size of it."

Morgan also believes his former ace, Roger Clemens, is more likely than not to return in 2007. Clemens is also his only former player who is still active.

"All I can say is he put a lot of money in my pocket. I'm very thankful for Roger, and others."

In compiling a 301-262 (.535) record from 1988-91, Morgan won two AL East titles and a permanent place in the hearts of Red Sox fans.

For that, he will join Ellis Kinder, former second baseman and current NESN analyst Jerry Remy, George "Boomer" Scott, Vern Stephens, Dick Williams and Red Sox spokesman and executive Dick Bresciani in this year's class of inductees into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

The induction dinner for the Class of 2006 will take place on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

"To be honest with you, I never remotely thought about getting this, so it came as quite a surprise, quite an honor. I wasn't around here an awful lot. I wasn't around here 20 years, so it made it all the better," Morgan said.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.