Finding your own path
Daughter of MLB Hall of Famer finds success in gymnastics
Ashley Morgan’s father is just like any other dad proudly watching his daughter compete in the NCAA Women’s Gymnastic Championships at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.
Well, there is one difference. Joe Morgan just happens to be arguably the best second baseman in the history of Major League Baseball and has two World Series rings and a Hall of Fame plaque to bolster that argument.
But you would never know it to watch him in the stands. He blends in with the other parents, unassuming and bringing no attention to himself.
Ashley didn’t even know her father had such notoriety until people told her.
“I think the thing for me is he’s not famous,” Ashley said. “He’s just humble and he’s just my dad. I grew up when he wasn’t playing anymore so the stuff I find out about him is my own research and from older people. I find it so unbelievable he is that humble and I really admire it.”
Ashley and 22-year-old twin sister Kelly, who plays soccer at USC, were born well after their father retired from baseball in 1984 and only knew that he did television work.
“When I grew up, he was announcing and it was natural to have him on the television doing Sunday night baseball and hearing his voice come through the TV,” Ashley said. “It wasn’t until later seeing old videos of him playing and going to the Hall of Fame and all those dinners was when I got to hear from all those people how amazing of not only a baseball player but as a person he was, that both my sister and I admire.”
Ashley and Kelly know exactly where they inherited their love of sports.
“I think definitely my quickness and my athleticism comes from my dad and his focus, because he has laser-like focus,” Ashley said. “I think there is a lot of things in gymnastics that I mirror my dad. The focus, the drive, the determination are all from my dad.”
But Ashley’s easy-going, fun-loving personality is more like her mother and that personality was evident when she was a youngster, writing about what she wanted to do when she got older.
“My third grade project was to write about something I wanted to do and I decided I wanted to do Stanford and gymnastics,” Ashley said. “I knew then I wanted to go. I had my little drawing and I am in a little leotard... it’s pretty funny.”
Funny, but focused and, unlike some sports parents that force their children, Ashley never felt that pressure from her parents.
“My dad was completely the opposite,” Ashley said. “He never pushed me or my sister into sports at all. He just said whatever you want to do make the choice yourself and I’ll be here to support you no matter what. I think along the way I followed my heart and he always encouraged me to do that and just have fun.”
Joe was true to his word, never interfering and acting the part of a soccer dad. He and his wife shuttled their daughters to practices and games, while attending every one.
“To have them sitting in the stands watching us, driving us to and from practices, I think it just makes it that much more worth it to be able to give back to them for all they done for us,” Ashley said. “He comes to every one of my meets. No matter what he’s doing or how busy he is, he always finds a way. He always says I’ll be there no matter what and he is.”
It’s also made her a better athlete. At Stanford, Ashley, a senior co-captain of the team, was the Pac-12 floor champion for the third consecutive year.
As much as Joe cheers for his daughter in gymnastics, it is the school she represents that makes him applaud even more.
“He always says that, he’s more proud that I am at Stanford,” Ashley said. “When I was growing up it was education first and sports after that. When I got the grades and was able to get into Stanford he was beyond impressed. That’s always been something he’s proud of.”