Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
No Wynn Situation
2007-02-24 17:32
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Put Jimmy Wynn near the top of my list of players I wish I had seen play. I've read about him and talked to people about him, but the closest I know from Wynn as a thirty-five year old Yankee fan is the fact that he was in the dugout when Billy Martin yanked Reggie Jackson off the field at Fenway Park in 1977. I got to thinking about Wynn cause I found an article on him the other day at Think Factory. It's one of those stories where the long-retired jock talks about how he'd be a Hall of Famer if he played today. Not much of an article. But it reminded me of something I once read about Wynn.

I read it in Joe Morgan's autobiography (co-written by David Falkner), of all places. Morgan and Wynn were teammates in Houston for nine years. They both first appeared in 1963 when Morgan was 19 and Wynn was just 21. Wynn had more talent than Morgan. Wynn was a five-tool player. Stuck out a lot but walked a lot. Hit for power, steal bases, had a great arm.

They were the best of friends. Later, Morgan wrote about Wynn:

He was Willie Mays at the same age, but he just had a different agenda, and because of that he never progressed [into a truly great player].

It used to bother me a lot that Jimmy wouldn't work to nuture his talent. I'd talk to him about it but it never mattered and I never pushed it because I liked him too much and who as I, anyway, to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't be do with their careers. It may be that Jimmy had the right idea and I had the wrong one about what a life in baseball was all about.

Jimmy, in so many ways, epitomized the old ballplayer, the guy who came along before the portfolios, the agents, and the business managers. When he said he was going to put aside most other things and concentrate on home runs, he was really saying he didn't want to work at those other things. The home run, he knew, would keep him in the majors...

I am sure Jimmy could have made it to the Hall of Fame if he had wanted to, just as I know there are other players who might have if they had cultivated the superior talent they had. But Jimmy's choice was clear. Maybe there should be a Hall of Fame for all those guys, too, the ones who decided that life at the top was about enjoying yourself to the fullest while you had the chance. I went another way. And I can measure that way not only by the numbers I put up, by the awards I got, but also by all those hours sitting alone in hotel rooms, watching TV, not enjoying myself very much, but doing what I wanted to do nevertheless.

Wynn was a monster talent who had a very good career, but wasn't willing to do what it took to have a Hall of Fame career. Interesting how Morgan wonders if Wynn had the right idea all along.

2007-02-24 18:20:38
1.   jonm
That quote just shows what a jerk Joe Morgan is. It's as if he can't accept the fact that he may have had superior talent to Wynn. He has to badmouth Wynn to show what superior "character" he had. What bs!

Even as it stands, given era and park effect adjustments, Wynn is certainly amongst the top dozen center fielders and, given that, he would not be an embarassment to the Hall of Fame. The problem is that Hall of Fame voters are too stupid to make the necessary adjustments.

2007-02-24 19:30:36
2.   RZG
1 You seem to have a lot of anger. I don't see any badmouthing at all, Morgan was telling how they took two different paths and was non-judgemental about whether one path was better than the other.

Sounds like you didn't like Morgan to begin with to come to the conclusion he's a jerk from this quote.

2007-02-24 19:32:14
3.   markp
The first post says it all, so there's really no reason for other posts. I never let my words not being needed stop me before, though.
I sometimes think Joe Morgan had a lobotomy on the day he retired. He was the smartest ballplayer of his time, but as soon as he hung up his glove he got really stupid.

Wynn was a very good CF, hit for decent average, drew a ton of walks, and had excellent power in the toughest place to hit in MLB at the time. He also spent his prime in the worst hitters era since the teens.
If he'd have gone to Cincy instead of Joe, he'd be in the HOF a long time by now. (Ditto Cruz.)

2007-02-24 21:16:05
4.   jonm
2 How you can read that last paragraph in which Morgan suggests that there "perhaps should be a Hall of Fame for ballplayers who liked to party" as non-judgmental is beyond me.

Joe Morgan was a great, great ballplayer, but as comment 3 points out, it is rather odd that all of Joe's virtuous, ascetic late nights in hotel rooms didn't really seem to pay off until he got to play in a new park in a lineup surrounded by great hitters.

Take a look at the stats:

2007-02-25 05:31:24
5.   The Mick 536
Okay. Okay. Here is a ground ball, maybe. Called the "Toy Cannon." Seems obvious, but specifically why, when, and who gave him the monnicker.

Didn't remember he wore 24.

Singularly unimpressive as a Jank. Bought with George's money. Shows how serious he was about winning. Started 1977 season as a DH. Let him go in mid-season.

Baseball reference compares him favorably with Ron Gant, Burnitz, Murcer, etc. Hardly HOF material, unless you want to make it like the FHOF.

And go easy on Joe. He has a bias. He is the ranking ex-baseball member of the HOF officers and directors. Carries some clout, yes!

2007-02-25 11:33:32
6.   jalexei
I literally cannot stand to listen to (or generally read) anything that emits from Joe Morgan, but I found the excerpt posted pretty interesting and suprisingly insightful for someone whose recent font of baseball knowledge tends to be either stunningly obvious or laughably wrong.

I read this as Joe having tremendous respect for Jimmy's talent, and the question at the end really does seem to raise the idea that Joe was maybe a bit jealous, and really did wonder if the man who followed his own heart a bit more wasn't on the "smarter" track.

And Joe's musing about a Hall of Fame for guys who had the talent but didn't, for whatever reason, put up the "numbers" is certainly judgemental, but judgemental in FAVOR of guys like Wynn.

2007-02-26 06:24:29
7.   Chester
Wynn was an excellent player. Saw him play often and always looked like he glided on the field, never pushed very hard. Had tremendous power for a rather smallish guy. Built like Morgan but a tad bigger. His lack of dominant size kept him from being an elite player, that and the fact he played for the Astros of the mid-60s...
2007-02-26 09:19:55
8.   Joe T
Jimmy Wynn started with a bang for the Yanks, opening day 1980 he hit a Homer in the black. After that he was used mostly as a DH and a PH. He was productive in the AL Championship series. He only was with the Yankees for a year or 2.

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