Even Jack Morris has emotions.
Don’t try telling that to the hitters who had to face him during his big-league pitching career. Heck, don’t even try and convince any of his former teammates that there was a soft side to the right-hander, not even his Tigers teammate Alan Trammell, who along with Morris will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July.
The two of them, unable to get the 75 percent support necessary for induction during 15 years on the ballot of veteran members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, met with the media at the winter meetings on Monday, the day after being voted into the Hall of Fame by the Modern Baseball Era Committee, an outgrowth of what was the Veterans Committee.
And just how much it meant to Morris was on display when he met with the media on Monday morning, his voice quivering, causing him to halt in mid-sentence more than once.
“Obviously it is a humbling point in my life,” said Morris. “After failing on the writers’ ballot, reality sinks in. For me, it was a wonderful learning time because I had to remind myself of how much I am grateful for without the Hall of Fame.
“And then you get this wonderful news from your peers, and it happens, and Tram and I are both having a tough time grasping that right now. But it’s more for the people that were in my corner than me, myself, right now. I think, had I made it on the first ballot, I wouldn’t have that same feeling. So, I’m grateful for the time, because it has taught me a lot.”
For Trammell it was a day to celebrate. His smile stretched across his face, thinking back to his youth dreams and not the adult reality.
“As a young boy all I wanted to do was become a baseball player,” said Trammell. “Now, to be in the Hall of Fame, it is hard to believe. …Right now, I feel out of place. The Hall of Fame has a great ring to hit, but to hear, `Alan Trammel, Hall of Famer,’ does not resonate. It will take time to sink in.”
No problem. It took time for Morris and Trammel to get honor. They were both products of the Tigers amateur draft in 1976 – Trammell in the second round out of high school in San Diego and Morris in the fifth round out of BYU. And both waited more than two decades from their retirement – Trammell after the 1996 season and Morris two years earlier – to their induction into Cooperstown.
And for Morris, he admitted, as difficult as the wait may have been he now can look at it as a blessing.
He would have loved to have been a first-ballot inductee, but he isn’t about to complain that after being bypassed 15 times by the writers he was voted into the Hall of Fame by a 16-person panel that included Hall of Fame players George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount, manager Bobby Cox, and executive John Schuerholz.
In addition, baseball writers Bob Elliott and Jayson Stark, Steve Hirdt of Elias Sports Bureau, and club executives Bob Castellini, Bill DeWitt, David Glass, Paul Beeston and Sandy Alderson were on the selection committee.
“It is somewhat more gratifying to know that guys who tried to get hits against me, a guy who managed against me, and guys who were in the front office of other teams elected me,” he said.
Known for that deadly stare and his strong competitive nature, Morris let his guard down for a day for the baseball world to see.