Editor’s note: On every remaining Sunday in 2020, the Star Tribune will republish a memorable Sid Hartman column from the archives. This is Sid’s column from the Oct. 28, 1991, edition of the Star Tribune following the Twins’ victory over Atlanta in Game 7 of the World Series.
There were a lot of heroes Sunday night as the Twins won their second World Series in five years by beating the Braves 1-0 in 10 innings. But Jack Morris was the biggest hero.
He blanked the Braves for 10 innings on seven hits, struck out eight and got great defensive support from the best defensive team in baseball. “Under these circumstances, I’ve never seen a better pitched game,” said pitching coach Dick Such.
“They suggested taking him out in the 10th inning, but he would have no part of it,” said Kent Hrbek. “What a horse. He could have gone 25 innings, if needed.”
Randy Bush, who got a big pinch single, joined in the praise of Morris. “The 1987 victory was sweet, but this one feels better,” Bush said. “With Jack out there, we knew we were in good shape.”
Catcher Brian Harper said, “Jack got stronger as the game went on. I don’t think he’s ever pitched a better game under tough circumstances.”
This was Morris’ third start in eight days. But he didn’t show any wear and tear and had the Braves singing his praises after the game.
Twins owner Carl Pohlad said, “The best money I’ve ever spent on this baseball team was signing Morris. Everybody contributed, but without him we would never have won it.”
I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it. I’ve watched a lot of great athletes perform over these many years, but I’ve never seen a competitor like Jack Morris. If any proof was needed, it was displayed last night.
Gladden big hero
Dan Gladden scored the winning run on Gene Larkin’s pinch single after doubling in the 10th. Gladden, who got three hits, is a free agent.
There have been rumors that the team will not re-sign Gladden because of his $1,050,000 salary and will replace him with Pedro Munoz, who would draw the minimum $100,000 next year.
But Twins General Manager Andy MacPhail said no decision has been made about Gladden or any other free agent.
The Twins would not have won this thing without Gladden, who had a great postseason. Gladden didn’t want to talk about the future last night, but in the past he has made it clear that he wants to return.
What was going through his mind while he watched Larkin’s hit sail over the drawn-in outfield?
“I stood there for a moment, because I knew we had won the ballgame,” Gladden said.
As for Larkin, he has been sidelined with a bad knee that might need surgery. He hasn’t been able to run, so he hasn’t played much.
There was a time last year when the Twins discussed trading Larkin for needed pitching. Often, the deals you don’t make are the best ones. Larkin has been a valuable commodity for this team, playing a lot of first base when Hrbek was sidelined.
This is the kind of team that had a different hero almost every night. In Game 6, it was Kirby Puckett. In Game 7 it was Morris, Larkin ... everybody.
Kelly among greats
Win or lose, Tom Kelly will go down in history as one of the great Twins managers, joining Sam Mele, who led the team to the 1965 World Series, and Billy Martin, who managed in 1969 but also made a great contribution as a coach.
Nobody deserves to be manager of the year more than Kelly, who took the Twins from last to first. He didn’t get his due in 1987, but he certainly deserves to get it this time.
Former Twins farm director George Brophy, now a scout with the Houston Astros, credits Blue Jays Vice President Bob Mattick for advising him to give Kelly a chance.
“I don’t want to put Del Wilbur in a bad light, but he and the owner of our Tacoma farm club weren’t getting along during the 1977 season,” Brophy recalled. “Kelly was playing with Tacoma at the time. Finally, when the owner said he had had enough of Wilbur, we named Kelly the acting manager.
“He was such a mature young man and kind of a scholarly kid.”
But Kelly didn’t want to manage on a permanent basis. He wanted to make it in the major leagues as a player.
Brophy said he actually didn’t consider hiring Kelly full time until he bumped into Mattick during major league spring training in 1978.
“Mattick saw Kelly on our bus, said hello to him and then asked me whether Kelly was a coach,” Brophy said. “I told him that he was a player.”
Mattick praised Kelly, which struck Brophy as unusual. “That conversation put the idea in my head. When a situation developed at Visalia, I named him a manager in 1979,” Brophy said.
Brophy said he encouraged MacPhail to name Kelly the Twins manager after his stint as interim manager in 1986. “I had been at the World Series in 1986 and came back a day early when my mother-in-law died,” Brophy said. “I met MacPhail at the airport. He said he was in a tough situation.
“He wanted to give Kelly the managing job, but there was some opposition. Some people thought he was too young. I told MacPhail Tommy would be all right.”
The rest is history.
MacPhail deserves credit. Jim Frey was available, and he interviewed. But Pohlad followed MacPhail’s recommendation, and it has turned out to be a great decision.