LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – One day after celebrating and reflecting on his long wait to get into the Hall of Fame, Jack Morris still couldn’t keep it together during the official news conference at the Dolphin Hotel.
“Obviously, this is a very humbling point in my life,” Morris said as his voice cracked during his opening remarks. “I am very proud and honored to join some of my heroes here and a lot of other guys that aren’t here. It’s been a while. It’s been a tremendous learning experience for me, something that I don’t regret today.”
The 62-year-old St. Paul native, who won a World Series in his one season with the Twins in 1991, was voted into the Hall on Sunday by the Modern Era Committee after spending 15 years on the BBWAA ballot without getting the required 75 percent of the vote.
Former Tigers teammate Alan Trammell also was voted in. The two will be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., the weekend of July 27-29.
“I’m especially proud to go in with my friend and a guy who helped define who I was,” said Morris, who played with Trammell from 1977-1990. “It doesn’t get any better for me.”
Morris became emotional many more times as he talked about his long wait, his thoughts about the BBWAA members who didn’t vote for him and his long career with the Tigers.
Among those in the audience were contemporaries Robin Yount and George Brett, Hall of Famers and members of the 16-man selection committee. Both said they began to get emotional listening to Morris because it was obvious how touched he was by the honor.
“I don’t know Jack personally,” Yount said, “[but] that’s not the guy I knew on the mound, snorting and sniffing and crap coming out of his face and literally was out there for blood and to get you out. He has a soft side!”
The selection committee also included Hall of Fame members Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton and Dave Winfield; major league executives Sandy Alderson (Mets), Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bob Castellini (Reds), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals) and David Glass (Royals); and veteran media members/historians Bob Elliott, Steve Hirdt and Jayson Stark.
“You start comparing them and you get people speaking on their behalf and you get people bad-mouthing them,” said Brett, who said the meeting lasted from 5 ½ to 6 hours on Sunday. “It was pretty heated discussions on everyone.
“It was a great process. We sat at a big rectangular table and it was like, ‘Hold on! Let me say something about this guy!’ And you would fight for your guy.”
Morris, a workhorse righthander who pitched from 1977 to 1994, won 20 games three times while amassing a career record of 254-186. His 162 victories in the 1980s were the most of any pitcher. Yet his 3.90 career ERA will be the highest of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame, and he never won a Cy Young Award. And that influenced many voters.
Now armed with the opportunity to criticize those who didn’t support him, Morris went the opposite direction.
“I want all the writers to know that I’m not mad at any of you,” Morris said. “I appreciate and understand how difficult it had to be. I finally grew up and learned that there’s reasons I maybe didn’t deserve to be in.”