LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Jack Morris, known for his tough-guy demeanor on the mound, showed a much different side Monday when he and Alan Trammell were presented as the two newest members of the Hall of Fame at baseball’s winter meetings.
Morris and Trammell failed to get the 75 percent vote required from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to gain entrance to Cooperstown during their 15 years on the regular ballot. But the two former Tigers were granted a second chance through the Modern Era committee, a 16-member panel made up of former players, executives (including Mets general manager Sandy Alderson) and media members.
The emotions that were created by waiting so long were too hard to contain once Morris put on the Hall jersey, and his voice cracked often. He occasionally had to pause to collect himself, even while questioning the game’s reliance on advanced metrics that previously undermined his place in history.
“[I] want all the writers to know that I’m not mad at any of you,” he 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. I wasn’t born and raised in the analytics that are in the game today. None of it was a part of the game when we played. I always found it puzzling to wonder why I’m being judged on a criteria that didn’t even exist while we played, but it is what it is.”
Morris finished with 254 victories, and his career 3.90 ERA is the highest of any pitcher in Cooperstown. But his postseason magnificence for World Series winners in Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto nudged him over the top, along with his reputation as a “big-game pitcher,” a moniker that doesn’t really fly with the analytics crowd.
For Trammell, it was just the opposite. He batted .285 and hit only 185 home runs, but his defensive metrics, particularly in pairing with longtime double-play partner Lou Whitaker, was a strength along with a .352 on-base percentage. He was the MVP of the 1984 World Series.
Like Morris, Trammell suggested that it was more gratifying to be rewarded by the Modern Era committee because it included former players, including Hall of Famers George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount.
“I believe it’s even better,” Trammell said. “When I ranked myself as a player, I thought I could do a lot of things well, but . . . there wasn’t one thing that just was at the top. But I think that’s part of the criteria when you look at all the ingredients of becoming a Hall of Famer is a well-rounded player, and that’s just who I was. I couldn’t be anybody else.”
Morris and Trammell were asked about Marvin Miller — the late MLBPA chief who revolutionized the game’s salary structure — again being a notable thumbs-down by the committee. They disagreed with the verdict.
“All I can say is I owe him a great bit,” Morris said. “My life changed because of his hard work to put us on the map, and I think there’s a whole generation of people playing the game today that have no idea what he did to help us, and that’s a regret. I hope they take the time to learn who he is, what he did.
“I realize there’s friction between him and ownership. He made it hard on them. That’s human nature. We don’t always see the same way. But baseball has changed dramatically because of Marvin Miller, whether you want to like him or not.”