Hartman: Home-state pride was strong in Morris during 1985 All-Star Game

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2014 - 11:46 PM
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Though he started in an All-Star Game in his home state in Minnesota, Jack Morris said his biggest All-Star moment came in his first game, the 1981 version played Aug. 9 in Cleveland after a 50-day strike wiped out more than a third of the season.

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With the festivities for Tuesday’s All-Star Game underway in the Twin Cities, St. Paul native Jack Morris talked about his five All-Star Game appearances over 11 years.

“I was lucky. I enjoyed my time. I was able to pitch in five All-Star Games, started three of them, and one was right here in Minnesota when I was playing for Detroit [in 1985],” Morris said. “That was a lot of fun, because I got to finally be teammates with Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield, who I grew up watching and playing against my whole life. It was the first time we were ever teammates together.”

Morris acknowledged that same pride will probably be there at Target Field for players such as Glen Perkins and Pat Neshek, who will get to play in an All-Star Game in their home state.

“It was a huge honor, and for me to come home where all my youth baseball was played and to play in front of the Twins fans was great,” Morris said.

Morris also started the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto, during his lone season with the Twins. Scott Erickson likely would have been selected to start that game, but the Twins righthander, who was 12-3 with a 1.83 ERA at the break, was on the disabled list when the teams were announced and was not selected.

But asked what his biggest All-Star Game moment was, Morris said: “Probably my first one in ’81, the welcome back to baseball after the prolonged strike, and we played in front of 77,000 people in the old Cleveland Stadium. That was a lot of fun, too.”

Morris had very good career numbers in the All-Star Game. He pitched 10⅔ innings, giving up three runs on 14 hits with four walks and eight strikeouts, good for a 2.53 ERA. In three of his five appearances, he went two innings and didn’t give up a run. But the AL went 1-4 in Morris’ five All-Star Games, winning only the 1991 game.

Always exciting

Morris said that no matter how many times he reached the game, he always was excited to be a part of it, and that’s the feeling of most players he played with.

“I think they do [look forward to it],” he said. “There have been a few players over the years that have declined playing in the All-Star Game simply because they felt it was best for them to rest and make a push in the second half for their team. But ultimately I think everybody wants to be recognized during that event and be a part of it and it certainly is an honor, in my opinion.”

Morris added that he believes players truly give their best, with home-field advantage in the World Series going to the winning league in the All-Star Game since 2003.

“Any team that has a chance to have home-field advantage for the postseason, it’s a reason,” he said. “I think players have always played for pride and doing their best. I don’t think anyone goes out there just to go through the motions. You want to represent yourself and your teams as best you can, so I think they’ve always tried to play the best.”

Morris said one of the unique aspects of pitching in the All-Star Game is that pitchers are often throwing to the best-hitting catchers in their own league, and he said he didn’t always want to give away the secrets of his game plan to those types of hitters.

“You know, it’s funny,” he said. “The first time I was in the All-Star Game, Carlton Fisk was my catcher, and here’s a guy that I really did well against my whole career. I was kind of timid to show him my repertoire. I didn’t want him knowing what I pitched and how I threw and how I set up hitters, because I knew he was doing everything he could to pick my brain so he would have a better chance the next time he faced me. Ultimately, you’re teammates for a day, and everything goes away after the game.”

Fisk really didn’t learn too much for Morris, who held him to a career .141 batting average in 64 at-bats.

Morris also said that one of the fun benefits of being an All-Star is the chance to store away some nice pieces of memorabilia from playing with a collection of the best players in baseball. He said he kept baseballs from the games, which every player has to sign, and even bought a mural from the 1985 game.

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