DETROIT — Sure, he didn’t have the showy batting totals or tiny ERA career that some of the other greats brag about, but what Hall of Famer Jack Morris possessed can’t be determined even by the most recent sabermetric equations. . Morris, a 2018 Baseball Hall of Famer, outperformed nearly everyone around him during an 18-year career that included 254 regular-season wins, 175 complete games (the 16th most in the era expansion) and 28 shutouts.
Morris was a true competitor in every sense of the word. Remember, he’s the guy who once watched then-Twins manager Tom Kelly – who, understandably, approached Morris in the dugout after the latter had just worked nine shutout innings in the game 7 of the 1991 World Series, which was directed at the extras, and could have come to shake his hand – “Don’t even [expletive] Think about it.”
We all know how that story – and the rest of his remarkable career – unfolded. Not bad for a fifth-rounder in the 1976 MLB Draft that made just 29 minor starts before making his debut for the Tigers in 1977.
With Saturday being the anniversary of Morris’ memorable signing with the Twins on February 5, 1991, let’s take a look at 10 of the right-hander’s best moments:
1) Sorry, Smoltz, game 7 is mine
Twins vs. Braves. Morris versus Smoltz. October 27, 1991. There’s no doubt fans felt they were ready for an epic battle, but with two future Hall of Famers on the hill and a trophy on the line, this contest topped even the biggest hype. which surrounded him.
If there was ever a game that personified Morris’ grit and grind, it’s this one. He navigated a bases-loaded situation in the ninth, needed just eight pitches to send Atlanta into the 10th, and beat 2015 Hall inductee John Smoltz over 10 scoreless innings in a win. 1-0 that clinched the Twins’ second World Series title. in four years. It was the first extra-inning shutout for a pitcher in a playoff win in MLB history.
As a baseball fan, can this improve?
“There’s no question that’s one of my defining moments in baseball, because it was the only Game 7 I pitched,” Morris said. “I knew the importance of it, but I was also at the peak of my career mentally and physically. I’ve never pitched a game where I had better concentration, and I don’t know why. I had the best mindset I’ve had in my entire career.”
2) Without a hit? No problem
What’s perhaps most remarkable about Morris’ lone career goalscorer is that he didn’t exactly have pinpoint accuracy in that April 7, 1984 outing against the White Sox. Nonetheless, the right-hander navigated a season-tying six walks — including three in a row to start the fourth inning with the bases loaded — to preserve the no-no and give the Tigers their first hit since The Member of the Hall of Famer Jim Bunning skunked the Red Sox on July 20, 1958.
And Morris did it all in three days off.
3) Big game on a big stage
You’ll no doubt notice an evolving trend regarding 1984 on this list, and October 9 of this year was no different. The Tigers led wire to wire this season, then swept Kansas City in the ALCS to qualify for the World Series against the Padres. The pressure was on, and Morris made sure Detroit got off to a good start with a gem of eight hits for a complete game that included sitting sideways to preserve the 3-2 victory in the bottom of the ninth.
Morris made all three of his playoff starts that year, earning two comprehensive World Series victories.
4) Taming the Padres (again) in Game 4
After twirling the Game 1 gem above, Morris returned to the hill four days later on Oct. 13 as the Tigers clung to a 2-1 Series 4 lead. While Alan Trammell gave Detroit a big boost with a pair of two-run homers against starter Eric Show, Morris lived up to his end of the contract and then some with his second all-game effort in as many World Series games.
After allowing a solo homer in the second inning, Morris held San Diego to a close. His only blunder, a two-out wild pitch in the ninth, allowed a run to score, but Morris recovered to coax a lineout from next hitter, Terry Kennedy, to seal the win.
5) Go the distance… and then some
The fact that a 10-inning shutout earned only fifth place on this list is another testament to the bull Morris.
Sure, the Sept. 27 game had no playoff implications, but you wouldn’t have guessed Morris’ intensity. He held the Yankees to four hits, stoked eight, and walked two en route to his 20th win of the 1986 season. It was one of four career 10-inning CGs for Morris.
He ran the distance 15 times in 1986; six of them were shutouts. By comparison, there have been 47 full games in MLB in 2021, led by Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), Germán Márquez (Rockies) and Zack Wheeler (Phillies), who each had three. The last pitcher to pitch a full 10 innings was Roy Halladay of Toronto against the Tigers on April 13, 2007.
6) The period of the 80s…
Can we cram an entire decade into a single “moment”? You bet. What Morris accomplished while the rest of us were on the radio making mixtapes and breaking the bank can after can of Aqua Net is nothing short of remarkable. And if anyone needs convincing that Morris was a workaholic, they need only look to the era of shoulder pads and Iron Maiden for proof. Not only did Morris have more wins in the 1980s than any other pitcher (162), but he also had the most innings pitched (2,433 2/3), starts (332) and complete games (133). .
Morris was a five-time All-Star during the streak and appeared in Cy Young voting five times, winning a World Series ring with the Tigers in 1984 on a bodacious journey through the decade.
7) 20/20 vision
On September 27, 1983, Morris and the Tigers opened a three-game series against the O’s. Detroit won easily, 9-2, with Morris stoking nine-for-six hits to reach the 20-game season milestone and mark his 20th career complete game. Baltimore, of course, won the World Series that year, but not before Detroit swept that September with a combined score of 27-11.
Morris, who worked 293 2/3 innings that season and whipped up 232 — the AL’s two best — finished the campaign third in Cy Young’s vote, tied for his best career finish for the award.
8) Coming out strong in 1984
The 1984 Tigers were arguably one of the most exciting teams in franchise history, and the eventual World Series champions showed it roaring with a 35-5 start. Many made key contributions during that remarkable 104-58 campaign, but Morris ensured the gang started off on the right foot with a 10-1 record from the start.
Morris started 5-0 in six starts in April. A 1-0 loss to the Red Sox on May 3 sent him back on a second tear, reeling five more “W’s” during a streak that included two full games. He went the distance seven times before June — including his only career no-hitter — and worked nine innings against the Royals in his only no-decision, a game the Tigers gave up in extra innings.
Morris had a 1.88 ERA and held opponents to a .185 average and .256 slugging percentage in those 12 starts.
9) Flying high in his first MLB start
Mark “The Bird” Fidrych will forever live on in Tigers history thanks to an incredible 1976 rookie season in which he wowed baseball so much with his numbers – a 19-9 record, 2 ERA, 34 and 24 full games were enough to snag AL Rookie of the Year honors – like his weird ways. (How many MLB players have been on the cover of Rolling Stone?) But injuries halted The Bird’s career just as it was taking off, and on July 31, 1977, he was sidelined with right shoulder problems and Detroit needed someone to fill his spot in the game. the rotation.
Enter Morris, a 22-year-old rookie who had only made one career appearance. The start wasn’t pretty, with Morris issuing a pair of walks to start his outing before a single and a wild pitch made it 2-0 in favor of Texas before they had even recorded an out.
The rest of the game was another story. Morris came back to shoot eight consecutive goalless frames, stoking 11 along the way.
10) Work overtime
Morris’ first of four full 10-inning career games came against the White Sox on April 24, 1981. Although he allowed just three runs and outlasted Chicago counterpart Steve Trout, who s Withdrew after eight frames, Morris finally grappled with the loss in the 3-2 defeat. Still, the performance added to the 26-year-old’s growing platform as an absolute beast.
Although pitch count wasn’t really tracked in a widespread way until 1988, baseball sabermetrics guru Tom Tango devised a formula that will give us a rough estimate of Morris’s load that day: 3.3PA + 1.5SO + 2.2BB. Following this equation, Morris threw about 128 pitches. Another formula, created by Boyd’s World, offered a somewhat less conservative estimate of 145 paces.
Whatever your preference, it’s clear that Morris earned his payday that day, and many more after that. He pitched 175 career complete games, eight 10-inning offerings (four of which were CG), and one 11-inning outing.