January 4, 2011

Same Time, Next Year for Me, Morris and the Hall of Fame

It’s early January which means I have to write a post about how I’ll hold out hope that Jack Morris will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Gobs of articles have been written in the past couple of weeks, the majority of which put The Cat squarely in the “great but not Hall-of-Fame great” category.

Sadly, many of them, such as this one by Joe Posnanski, make terrific arguments against Morris’ chances. Even sadder, I’m starting to believe them. As a result I’m resigned to the fact he won’t be elected this year, if ever.

But wait! I have some anecdotes of my own:

In the summer of 2008 I attended the SABR Convention in Cleveland and asked former Indians outfielder Rick Manning if he thought Morris belonged in Cooperstown. He hemmed and hawed and eventually said, “That’s a tough call.” I took it as a “no”.

Then, last spring — thanks to a twist of fate — I had coffee with former major leaguer Ken Phelps and I asked him if he thought Morris belonged in the Hall and he responded without hesitation: “Absolutely.” I told him that many writers disagree and he replied, “Well, they didn’t face him.”

Touche.

I think today I realized why I so badly want to see Morris in the Hall of Fame. It’s because Tigers fans that grew up with the players that formed the core of the 1984 team expected so much from them. Didn’t we honestly think the Tigers would win again and again in the 1980s — not just one other division title in 1987?

For crying out loud, there was Morris, Dan Petry, Lance Parrish, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson — the best collection of Tigers players in a generation! And all we got was a single World Series championship?

Granted, I wouldn’t trade the summer of ’84 for anything, I just expected it to be the beginning of something great, not a one-time trip to the baseball summit. Didn’t you?

That’s why I want to see Morris or Trammell in the Hall. They deserve — and I think they’ve earned – a lasting baseball legacy. One that includes more than the magic they displayed in October 1984.

4 Comment(s)

  1. Ron | Jan 4, 2011 | Reply

    living in Boston I went to many many games at Fenway, mostly when the Tigers came to play. The year was 1985 late June, and Morris was pitching. I always got there early to watch Tigers bp and pitchers. Morris was warming up on the mound pregame, as I stood right next to the third base dugout. Morris was walking about 10 feet from me heading into the Tigers dugout and I yelled out, “Hey Jack, I don’t want to see you pitch anything less than a shutout”. Morris looked up and at me, didn’t say anything, saw me wearing my Tigers away cap, and had what I can only describe as a sly smile. Final score Tigers 3 redsox 0, CG shutout by Mr. Jack Morris.
    Those Tigers teams with him, Trammell, Whitaker, Parrish and the rest of them with Sparky were one of the elite teams in baseball for years.
    Part of the reason these players haven’t received their due in HOF voting is not that they weren’t worthy, compared to contemporaries, and those already enshrined, but as a smaller market ie. a mid market team, and not an east or west coast team, they don’t get as much ink and press. That, and also I think the Tigers writers for the detnews and freep and the Tigers’ team needs to do a bit more press-pr publicity for their players.

  2. Lee Panas | Jan 4, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t think Morris belongs in the HoF, but I agree it would be good to see one of the 1980s Tigers get in. That was my all-time favorite Tigers team. I think Whitaker and Trammell are better candidates than Morris, but Morris might be their only chance. At least until the Veterans Committee puts Whitaker and Trammell in together ala Tinkers/Evers/Chance.

  3. Jim Craddock | Jan 4, 2011 | Reply

    Mike, you have the same vigil going for Morris that I do for Tram. I happen to think they are both worthy, as is Whitaker.

  4. Mike McClary | Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    Great story, Ron. I’m glad to read that Morris gave you his equivalent of a big smile — and not a snarl.

    I agree with you that the Tigers of the mid-’80s played in relative obscurity, outside of 1984. Think about it: other than the NBC Game of the Week, there was no other way to see the Tigers if you lived in Atlanta, Houston or L.A.

    We can only hope that Morris or Tram can make it into Cooperstown soon — without having to buy a ticket.

    – Mike

Post a Comment