Morgan Magic returns to Fenway

Morgan Magic returns to Fenway

BOSTON -- It's been 20 years, but the place of Morgan Magic in Red Sox lore is still going strong in 2008.

Former manager Joe Morgan was on hand before Wednesday's game against the Rangers, throwing out the first pitch during a pregame ceremony that highlighted Morgan's productive stint as interim manager during the 1988 season.

During that season the Sox were near fourth place in the American Leauge East nearing the All-Star break, and management decided to dismiss skipper John McNamara in favor of Morgan. The results became legendary.

Morgan initiated a 12-game winning streak, including 19 of this first 20 games, and a 24-game home winning streak, propelling the team from mediocrity toward an AL East crown. The team would eventually lose to Oakland in the AL Championship Series.

Morgan said he returns to Fenway Park throughout the season, having been to a handful of Red Sox games as well as contests down at Triple-A Pawtucket. He said the game has a mix of new and familiar from when he was part of the game years ago.

"It's quite different with all the change," he said. "All the great players. ... But I still live 17 miles away, and I'm happy."

For the ceremony, the team played a brief video highlighting the Red Sox's accomplishments and victories during the successful stretch under Morgan. Players ranging from Roger Clemens to Wade Boggs to Dwight Evans crossed the board.

In fact, it was Evans who caught Morgan's first pitch.

Morgan managed the Red Sox for three more seasons after that 1988 run, leading them to another AL East title in 1990. They'd never make the World Series during his tenure, although he's amazed by the fact the team notched two titles in the past four years.

"I don't know if the atmosphere has changed; it certainly should have," he said of the new-found expectation to win after years of frustration. "I never thought I'd see them win. That shows how negative you get after all them years. But I'm glad they did it while we were around."

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.