Tigertown: Morris, Trammell elected to baseball Hall of Fame
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2017
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Fittingly, Jack Morris reached the Hall of Fame in extra innings.
Morris was elected to the Hall by its Modern Era committee on Sunday along with former Detroit Tigers teammate Alan Trammell, completing a joint journey from Motown to Cooperstown.
The big-game pitcher and star shortstop were picked by 16 voters who considered 10 candidates whose biggest contributions came from 1970-87. Morris got 14 votes and Trammell drew 13, one more than the minimum needed.
They will be enshrined on July 29, and fitting they’ll go in together. They both began their big league careers in 1977 with Detroit and played 13 seasons alongside each other with the Tigers.
“The time that I’ve spent wondering if this day would ever come seems to be vanished and erased right now because it did come, and it’s amazing,” the 62-year-old Morris said during a conference call.
Trammell felt overwhelmed.
“I came to realization that it might not happen, and I was OK with that. I really was,” he said. “If people thought it was a tad short, I could live with that.”
Former catcher Ted Simmons fell one vote shy, and former players’ union head Marvin Miller was five short of the 12 needed.
“It’s not a big surprise,” Miller’s son, Peter, said from Japan. “I think my father’s place in history is understood by all baseball players, all baseball fans and the general public.”
Morris had 254 wins and seven more in the postseason, including his 10-inning shutout in a 1-0 win for Minnesota over Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
“No question it was my defining moment in baseball,” Morris said. “I never thought I was in trouble and I knew I could get out of it if I was. So I had the best mindset I’ve ever had in my entire on that night.”
Morris also pitched for World Series winners in Detroit — with Trammell, in 1984 — and Toronto in 1992. His 3.90 career ERA tops Red Ruffing’s 3.80 as the highest of any pitcher in the Hall.
“For years my earned run average has been an issue for a lot of people that thought it was not good enough for Hall of Fame honors, but I never once thought about pitching for an ERA. I always thought about completing games, starting games, eating up innings and trying to win games more importantly than anything else,” he said. “Today’s generation is different. In my heart of hearts I don’t think for a second that guys that are pitching, the elite guys especially that are pitching in the game today, could not do what we did. I know they could. But they haven’t been conditioned to it, both physically and mentally.”
His 175 complete games included 20 in 1983. The entire big league total this year was 59, and no pitcher had more than five. He said sabermetrics should not be used to evaluate his era.
“Now I’m getting analyzed by a bunch of numbers and things that didn’t exist when I played, he said. “Had they existed maybe I would have had a better understanding of what it would have meant to not pitch through pain, to not go deeper into games on nights that I told my manager, ‘I’m fine’ when I wasn’t. But I don’t regret doing that, because if you go to the wall and never try to push down the wall, you’ll never know if you can.”
Now 59, Trammell was a steady presence in the middle of the diamond while playing all 20 of his seasons in Detroit, 19 of them next to double-play partner Lou Whitaker.
Trammell was the 1984 World Series MVP, hitting .450 as the Tigers trounced San Diego in five games and finished off a season in which they started out 35-5.
A six-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover, Trammell scored 1,231 runs and drove in 1,003. He batted .285 with 185 home runs and a .352 on-base average — he walked 850 times and struck out 874.
Trammell never came close to election during his 15 tries in Hall voting by Baseball Writers’ Association of America members, peaking at 40.9 percent in 2016. Starting at 22 percent in his first Hall ballot appearance in 2000, Morris reached at high of 67.7 percent in 2003, his next to last appearance.
Trammell’s next visit to the Hall will certainly last longer than his first trip to the shrine in upstate New York. That was in 1995, when the Tigers played the Cubs in the Hall of Fame exhibition game.
Wearing his No. 3 jersey, Trammell jogged the couple blocks and hurried through the Hall in 30 minutes while the teams were limbering up at Doubleday Field.
“I definitely want to come back some day,” he said that afternoon, “but I probably wouldn’t go through it in my uniform.”
Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Luis Tiant also were on the ballot.
Miller, who headed the players’ union from 1966-82 was on the ballot for the seventh time. Miller sent a letter to the BBWAA in 2008, four years before he died, saying he didn’t want to be considered anymore.
The BBWAA annual vote on players will be announced Jan. 24. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel are among 19 first-time candidates, and Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Edgar Martinez, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are among the holdovers.