COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Jack Morris looked out at one of the largest crowds to ever watch the Hall of Fame induction ceremony — a crowd that included several thousand Tigers fans and many Twins fans as well — and blurted a two-word introduction that he later admitted was corny.
“Helloooooooo, Cooperstown!” Morris bellowed as the audience cheered its approval.
He couldn’t have thrown a better get-me-over breaking ball for strike one.
That move settled him down. And for the next 15 minutes and 29 seconds Sunday, the 63-year-old righthander passed out thank-yous to everyone important to his career, one in which he won 245 games over 18 years and four World Series titles with three franchises — the Tigers in 1984, the Twins in 1991 and the Blue Jays in 1992 and ’93.
An estimated crowd of 53,000 attended the event, held on a field adjacent to the Clark Sports Center.
Among the 57 Hall of Famers seated behind Morris were Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor, with Molitor getting approval from Twins owner Jim Pohlad to leave the team during its series in Boston to attend the ceremony.
Morris, who graduated from Highland Park High School and attended Twins games at old Metropolitan Stadium, spoke of being the third player from the same town to be in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m also proud to have been teammates with St. Paul, Minnesota’s Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor,” Morris said. “I’m thrilled to join you both here in Cooperstown as the third Hall of Famer from St. Paul.”
Morris’ class includes Chipper Jones, Alan Trammell, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman and Jim Thome, the slugger who played for the Twins in 2010 and ’11.
Trammell spent his entire 20-year playing career with Detroit, and Morris said it is “a dream come true” for the longtime friends and teammates to be part of the same Hall of Fame class. Both were voted in by the Modern Era committee after failing make it via Baseball Writers Association of America voting over a 15-year eligibility period.
“We signed together in 1976, spent 13 years together in Detroit,” Morris said. “And now, 42 years later, Cooperstown. Wow. Wow.”
Minutes earlier during his own speech, Trammell looked toward Morris, and the shortstop put a twist on a phrase popularized by legendary Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell.
“Like Ernie Harwell used to say, when the Tigers turned a double play, you get two for the price of one with Jack and I going in together,” Trammell said.
When it was time to talk about the 1991 Twins, Morris thanked manager Tom Kelly for allowing him to pitch the 10th inning in Game 7 of the World Series that year. He took a playful shot at Ron Gardenhire, who was the first coach Morris had who was younger than him. And he spoke of how Kirby Puckett’s memorable home run in Game 6 had a calming effect on him, for it gave him one more game to pitch.
Morris said he could not wait to get to the park on game days to see what hijinks that 1991 team was up to — with Puckett usually at the center of it. It was a one-year homecoming for Morris that paid off in many ways.
“It would be a dream come true to follow in the footsteps of my heroes,” Morris said, “Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Rod Carew.”
Morris’ voice cracked a few times, especially when he spoke about his supportive family, but he avoided breaking down. His opening words were intentional, to help him relax as he addressed the throng of fans in front of him, while also making sure he did nothing that the Hall of Famers sitting behind him would rib him for at the dinner later that night.
Another complete game effort for No. 47, this time at a place he described as magical.
“God blessed us with a gorgeous day on a weekend that was maybe going to bring a lot of [wet] weather and so all of those things come into play,” Morris said, “and I’m looking out at the stands and I have those very same thoughts. There’s a lot of people who love this game. How lucky are we?”