COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – The National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony isn’t until Sunday, but Jack Morris has spent the past couple of days with his fellow inductees being treated like he is already one of the gang.
He attended two parties on Friday, one hosted by Jane Forbes Clark, the Hall’s chairman of the board, and the other by his first major league team, the Detroit Tigers. On Saturday, he played golf with his three sons and had a walk-through rehearsal of the ceremony. More festivities were planned for Saturday night.
Along the way, the St. Paul native and former Twin has visited with old friends and told old stories and slapped backs and roared with laughter. And more is on the way.
“I was joking with my wife that I’ve never hugged so many grown men in my life,” Morris said. “And had so much fun doing it.”
Cooperstown itself has been flooded with fans wearing their favorite team’s colors as they prepare to celebrate the induction of Morris, Alan Trammell, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman and Chipper Jones.
And each member of the class has taken a different path to Cooperstown, amassing amazing credentials that Thome simply referred to as “incredible” as he scanned the room at the Clark Sports Center on Saturday, where the inductees met the media.
In one corner was Guerrero, who came from nothing to become a feared hitter who never met a pitch he didn’t like.
Across from him sat Hoffman, a changeup master who saved 601 games.
Trammell, considered one of the best shortstops of his time not named Cal Ripken Jr., was next to Hoffman.
Across from Thome sat Chipper Jones, “probably one of the top three switch-hitters,” Thome said.
Morris, with 254 wins, 175 complete games, 28 shutouts and the best Game 7 performance ever, sat to Thome’s left.
And there was Thome himself, who hit 612 homers — 37 in nearly two seasons with the Twins — which ranks eighth on the all-time list.
“It’s a special group of guys, it really is,” Morris said. “I think we’re going to have a camaraderie among ourselves for a long time.”
Morris connected with the Twins’ contingent on Friday, which includes President Dave St. Peter; Twins great Dan Gladden, senior director of communication Dustin Morse and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven.
Another Hall of Famer with Twins ties — current manager Paul Molitor — was set to arrive later on Saturday after receiving permission from owner Jim Pohlad to leave the club to be present for the ceremony. That has excited many Hall of Famers, because he is a popular member.
Morris is appreciative — the two faced each other during their formative years in St. Paul, then were teammates on the 1993 Blue Jays team that won the World Series — but figures Molitor is not entirely happy leaving the team a day after Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly were dealt.
“Especially with everything that is going on,” Morris said. “I’m so happy he’s doing it. I know it is, in part, because of me. I know it is, in part, because of Tram. I hope it’s because Paul deserves to be here with this group of guys more than he has been.
“I know he wants to be a part of this. But he’s such a reliable guy. He knows the responsibility. You get rid of two key players yesterday, and I’m sure the clubhouse has got a whole bunch of issues going on. So it can’t be easy for him to leave these two days. But I’ll be dang glad to see him.”
Once Molitor arrives, everything will be in place in Morris’ view. The St. Paul trio of Morris, Molitor and Dave Winfield will be together. Trammell, his good friend and former Tigers teammate, is here. And he will be a few hours from celebrating being one of 323 members of the Hall of Fame.
“The one thought that comes to my mind is everybody should feel something like this in their life,” Morris said. “I don’t know how it happens, how people could ever feel. But it is genuinely a great group of guys that love each other, that care about each other, and they are welcoming this group of guys like they are part of the family. That’s what makes it so cool.”