I know one vote he has gotten steadily through recent years. Mine. I am privileged to be one of the Honorary BBWAA voters.
I can’t help but wonder how many people realize that Morris finished his distinguished career, which included 254 regular season major league victories and four World Series, by making 10 starts in Independent Baseball for the St. Paul (MN) Saints in 1996.
Mike Berardino of The St. Paul Pioneer Press reflected back on that time recently with the help of Marty Scott, who managed the Saints at the time and now is the Miami Marlins’ vice president of player development. Morris’s final start came in a one-game playoff against the Madison (WI) Black Wolf to determine a first-half championship in the Northern League, with the longtime major league ace working the first nine innings of an eventual 12-inning St. Paul victory.
Scott’s reflections may have been at their best when he told Berardino of a memorable day early that season when Morris’s Saints teammates “who never got close to playing in the major leagues” found a highlight film on television that centered around Game 7 of the 1991 World Series when Morris refused to give up the ball before finishing a 1-0, 10-inning Twins thriller against the Atlanta Braves. Many believe it may have been the best Game 7 pitching performance ever.
“They (players) let Jack describe certain emotions or things he felt…he talked about his approach to facing different hitters, and the kids were gathered around, asking Jack questions…I don’t think he moved the whole time,” said Scott, who had watched from the back of the Midway Stadium clubhouse. “In fact, I’m pretty sure on several occasions I saw tears in his eyes.”
In addition to Jack Morris, I voted for (alphabetically) Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith and Frank Thomas. I had voted for Fred McGriff in the past and probably would have given Jeff Kent a vote had there not been a 10-man limit.
TRIO OF INDY UMPIRES GET TO INSTRUCT OTHER CANDIDATES THESE DAYS
American Association and Can-Am League umpire supervisor Kevin Winn points out that three of his “graduates” to affiliated leagues are serving as instructors this fall in what is known as The Umpire School, one of two such operations which help arbiters qualify for assignment to the minor leagues.
Clay Park (now in the Texas League) and Rich Grassa (South Atlantic) worked in both of Winn’s leagues before getting their opportunity while Ron Teague (Texas) spent five summers in the American Association. Five current umpires from the two leagues are enrolled in the same school and hoping to win affiliated jobs. They are Michael Carroll, Derek Ivinski, Ben Sontaag and John Durante of the AA and Tim Kramer from the Can-Am.
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