He looked a little older when I saw him at the mall.
The first time I saw him was at spring training in Florida, just after he joined the Reds in 1972.
That year I saw him several times at Riverfront, plus game five of the playoffs and three World Series games.
Then each year thereafter, I’d make a dozen trips to Cincinnati to see him, plus the playoffs and World Series of ‘75 and ‘76. In 1974, I saw him in Montreal and Houston in 1976, and the All-Star game in Philadelphia. I collected his bat, glove, jersey and 104 of his baseball cards.
I followed his 22 years in the majors until he retired in 1984 at 41.
He had 2,517 hits, .271 average, and 689 stolen bases, 11th all-time.
I celebrated my 50th birthday by driving to Cooperstown in 1990 when he was inducted into Hall of Fame. And then to Cincinnati in 1998 when they retired his number. I wrote newspaper stories on these two events which are archived in the Hall of Fame Museum Library in Cooperstown.
He came to Lima as part of Reds Caravan and Joe Morgan,”pound-for-pound” the greatest baseball player ever, signed, to me personally, his 1965 Houston Astros rookie card.
Yes, no wonder he looked a little older. I hadn’t seen him in person for 17 years but he is now 72, just two years younger than me.
Thanks Joe for those 22 most memorable baseball years.