Sculptor Tsuchiya finishing up Morgan statue

Sculptor Tsuchiya finishing up Morgan statue

CINCINNATI -- Tom Tsuchiya is the sculptor responsible for the statues of Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson and Johnny Bench that can be seen at Great American Ball Park. On Wednesday, Tsuchiya previewed his latest creation, a statue of former Reds second baseman and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, which will be unveiled at the park later this summer.

Currently putting the final touches on the foam and clay mold that will soon be covered in bronze, Tsuchiya has been working on the project since last fall. The first step was deciding what it would look like.

"The hardest and most challenging thing about doing something like this is picking and finding the best and most appropriate pose for the player," Tsuchiya said.

He read books and articles on the internet to research Morgan's career, and, as a Reds fan since his dad used to take him to games in the 1980s, he happened to have a DVD of the 1975 World Series. After looking through picture after picture, he landed on a shot of Morgan breaking for second in one of his 689 career steals.

"That automatically implies he was a good hitter, because he obviously made it to first," Tsuchiya said.

Once the pose was chosen, Tsuchiya made 3-D models of Morgan using a computer program. Then, he sculpted three to-scale clay models, the last of which was scanned onto a computer before a fabricator built it out of foam. In about a week, Tsuchiya said he will be finished detailing the sculpture in clay, and it will be sent to a foundry in Indianapolis, where it will be cast in bronze just in time for its unveiling on Sept. 7.

As part of the celebration honoring Morgan, the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum will open a year-long exhibit dedicated to him. Rick Walls, its executive director, said the not-for-profit organization is still looking for contributions to help fund the statue, as it approaches its goal of $100,000.

For Tsuchiya, his contribution is adding yet another monument to remember the club's long and storied history.

"This is just cool," Tsuchiya said. "It's kind of bizarre, because I never would have imagined being a part of the whole Reds history. It's crazy."

Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.