Jack Morris and Alan Trammell had to wait until falling off National Baseball Hall of Fame ballots before finally earning election to Cooperstown. The former Tigers teammates were voted in Sunday by the Hall’s 16-person Modern Era committee, and in expressing gratitude, they both revealed that they had spent years wondering whether they would ever be enshrined.
“The time that I’ve spent wondering if this day would ever come seems to be vanished and erased right now because it did come, and it’s amazing,” Morris, 62, said (via the AP).
“I came to [a] realization that it might not happen, and I was okay with that. I really was,” the 59-year-old Trammell said. “If people thought it was a tad short, I could live with that.”
Baseball Writers’ Association of America members who fill out ballots for the Hall of Fame had deemed that Trammell came up more than a tad short, as he peaked in the voting at 40.9 percent in 2016; players need at least 75 percent of the votes from the BBWAA. Trammell spent 15 unsuccessful years on the ballot, having been grandfathered in for that possible length of consideration by the BBWAA after the Hall amended its maximum to 10 years in 2014.
Morris came closer, agonizingly so, in his 15 years on the ballot, reaching a peak of 67.7 percent in 2013, his next-to-last year of eligibility. The committee that elected him Sunday required 75 percent of the votes from its 16 members, made up of current Hall of Famers, MLB executives and baseball historians, and he and Trammell got 14 and 13 nods, respectively.
“To have the Hall of Famers during our era vote for us is very meaningful,” Trammell said, referring to the committee’s George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount (via MLB.com). “It means a lot. It’s very humbling.”
“I thought that Jack was well-deserving and in my opinion should’ve been in a few years ago,” Trammell added. “But nevertheless, it’s an honor to go in with Jack and whoever is inducted from the writers’ ballot. It’s going to be a great class. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
“I’ve got to believe, in a crazy sort of way, that this is the sweetest way to go in,” Morris said. “To go in with a guy who meant so much to me and, in my opinion, was overlooked.”
Morris and Trammell came up in the Tigers’ organization and arrived in the major leagues in 1977, remaining teammates for 14 seasons that included a World Series championship in 1984. Trammell, who spent all 20 of his MLB seasons in Detroit, was the MVP of that World Series, batting .450 in a five-game triumph over the Padres.
A .285 career hitter who racked up 185 home runs, 1,003 RBI and 236 stolen bases, Trammell was a six-time all-star and four-time Gold Glove winner. Morris accumulated 254 wins over 18 seasons, with a 3.90 ERA. He is best remembered for pitching all 10 innings in a 1-0 win for the Minnesota Twins over the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
“No question it was my defining moment in baseball,” said Morris, whose career ended with stints with the Blue Jays and Indians. “I never thought I was in trouble and I knew I could get out of it if I was. So I had the best mind-set I’ve ever had in my entire on that night.”
Of criticism that he was never among the most dominant players of his time and does not measure up well against his top contemporaries by some metrics, Morris said Sunday, “For years, my earned run average has been an issue for a lot of people that thought it was not good enough for Hall of Fame honors, but I never once thought about pitching for an ERA. I always thought about completing games, starting games, eating up innings and trying to win games more importantly than anything else.”
“Now I’m getting analyzed by a bunch of numbers and things that didn’t exist when I played,” added Morris, who threw 175 complete games. “Had they existed maybe I would have had a better understanding of what it would have meant to not pitch through pain, to not go deeper into games on nights that I told my manager, ‘I’m fine’ when I wasn’t. But I don’t regret doing that, because if you go to the wall and never try to push down the wall, you’ll never know if you can.”
Morris and Trammell will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July along with the players voted in by the BBWAA, who will be announced in January. Others considered by the Modern Era committee, who must have played between 1970 and 1987, included Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Luis Tiant.
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