It’s early January which means I have to write a post about how I’ll hold out hope that Jack Morris will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Gobs of articles have been written in the past couple of weeks, the majority of which put The Cat squarely in the “great but not Hall-of-Fame great” category.
Sadly, many of them, such as this one by Joe Posnanski, make terrific arguments against Morris’ chances. Even sadder, I’m starting to believe them. As a result I’m resigned to the fact he won’t be elected this year, if ever.
But wait! I have some anecdotes of my own:
In the summer of 2008 I attended the SABR Convention in Cleveland and asked former Indians outfielder Rick Manning if he thought Morris belonged in Cooperstown. He hemmed and hawed and eventually said, “That’s a tough call.” I took it as a “no”.
Then, last spring — thanks to a twist of fate — I had coffee with former major leaguer Ken Phelps and I asked him if he thought Morris belonged in the Hall and he responded without hesitation: “Absolutely.” I told him that many writers disagree and he replied, “Well, they didn’t face him.”
I think today I realized why I so badly want to see Morris in the Hall of Fame. It’s because Tigers fans that grew up with the players that formed the core of the 1984 team expected so much from them. Didn’t we honestly think the Tigers would win again and again in the 1980s — not just one other division title in 1987?
For crying out loud, there was Morris, Dan Petry, Lance Parrish, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson — the best collection of Tigers players in a generation! And all we got was a single World Series championship?
Granted, I wouldn’t trade the summer of ’84 for anything, I just expected it to be the beginning of something great, not a one-time trip to the baseball summit. Didn’t you?
That’s why I want to see Morris or Trammell in the Hall. They deserve — and I think they’ve earned — a lasting baseball legacy. One that includes more than the magic they displayed in October 1984.