Reds great and Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan will lead thousands of partyin’ poultry in the World’s Largest Chicken Dance at Oktoberfest. The carousing will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17 at historic Fountain Square in Downtown Zinzinnati.
“Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati has long been regarded as the largest Oktoberfest celebration in North America and the second largest in the world,” said Patrick Sheeran, vice president with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “But in the long and storied history of the event, we have never had a chicken dancer with so much on the job experience.”
Early in his career, Morgan had trouble with his swing because he kept his back elbow down too low. Teammate Nellie Fox suggested that Morgan should flap his back arm like a chicken to keep his elbow up. He followed the advice, and Morgan’s flapping chicken arm soon became a familiar sight to baseball fans.
Morgan was the first second baseman in history to win the National League MVP back-to-back—doing so in 1975 and 1976 when the Big Red Machine won backto-back World Series. He drove in the winning run in game 7 of the 1975 World Series, ranked as perhaps the greatest World Series of all time.
“Little Joe,” nicknamed for his diminutive 5’7″ stature, was a 10-time All Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner and a Silver Slugger winner in 1982. Morgan was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1987 and was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1990. The Reds retired Morgan’s number 8 in 1998 and he was recently
ranked as the greatest Red of all time by the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Said Johnny Bench of Morgan, “When he’s healthy, he’s the finest ballplayer I ever played with. He could win more ballgames in more ways than anybody.”
Morgan is the second former Red to lead the Chicken Dance, joining Joe Nuxhall. The Ol’Left Hander led a rousing rendition in 2007. He joins an all-star cast of celebrities who have served as the grand marshal of
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati. In 1994, the Crown Prince of Bavaria attended Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati and helped the event set a world record for the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, with 48,000 participating according to Guinness Book of Records.
In 1998 Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati tuned up to set a world record for the World’s Largest Musical Ensemble. The late, great trumpeter Al Hirt, a 1941 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, returned to his musical roots to lead 25,000 in a magical interpretation of his trademark song, When The Saints Go Marching In.
In 1999, Grammy Award-winner Weird Al Yankovic led 30,000 on kazoo in a rendition of the Chicken Dance and Beer Barrel Polka. The event was featured on CNN Headline News and VH1’s “Rock-n-Roll Record-breakers.” And in 2000, The The Monkees’ Davy Jones provided a goose bump moment leading the World’s Largest Chicken Dance and a rendition of Daydream Believer.
In 2001, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati was postponed due to the attack on America on Sept. 11. A week following, American patriot and singer Tony Orlando led a throng on Fountain Square in inspiring renditions of Tie A Yellow Ribbon ’Round The Old Oak Tree and America. In 2002, Verne Troyer, a.k.a. Mini Me, cast a big shadow
leading the Chicken Dance. Vince Neil, lead vocalist for the legendary rock group Mötley Crüe, led the 2004 World’s Largest Chicken Dance, an event so surreal VH1 named it the “Least Metal Moment” in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Last year, Cincinnati-native and UFC fighter Rich Franklin led a tough-as-nails rendition.