The Reds will be unveiling a new statue at Great American Ball Park later this year in honor of Hall-of-Fame Second Baseman Joe Morgan. Sculptor Tom Tsuchiya is putting the finishing touches on it this week at his studio.
If you've been to the ballpark, you're already familiar with Tsuchiya's work. He created the statues of Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson, Ernie Lombardi, Joe Nuxhall and Johnny Bench. He's also the artist for several statues at Xavier University, including the one of the Musketeer d'Artagnan, and the new Jesus statue at Solid Rock Church in Monroe.
Tsuchiya has put a lot of time and effort into creating the Joe Morgan statue, starting with studying pictures and video.
"The first stage was watching all the DVDs of the Big Red Machine's 1975 World Series victory," said Tsuchiya. "That had just tons and tons of great footage of Joe in action."
But then it got hard. Morgan did a lot of things very well--hitting, fielding--so how should he be portrayed? Tsuchiya said he decided that a statue of Morgan stealing base best captured his greatness as a player. (Morgan is number 5 in the National League for career stolen bases with 681, so that's a good choice.)
Reds Hall of Fame executive Director Rick Walls agrees Morgan's base running was one of his strongest contributions.
"It would change the way they defended the next hitters. When he was on there, the pitcher would pitch faster to the plate so he couldn't get the good jump off of first," said Walls. "Those important things made everybody else better, and that's what Joe was about, a team player."
The foam-and-clay statue heads to Indianapolis next week to be molded and cast. It'll be dedicated September 7 in Crosley Terrace at the corner of Johnny Bench Way and Joe Nuxhall Way.