On a rare Monday afternoon game at Four Winds Field between two minor league affiliates of the Diamondbacks and Cardinals, there was more Tigers clothing than anything else.
That's because former Tigers great Jack Morris was in the house as the special guest of the Silver Hawks. The now 59-year-old signed autographs for fans as he reflected on his outstanding baseball career.
Morris is perhaps the closest to ever getting to the Hall of Fame who has not gotten there. But he says he doesn't worry about all of that.
"My baseball numbers, stats, career whatever-- I don't know if I'd trade it with anybody," Morris explains. "I had great times, great memories, great teammates and great experiences."
Morris had a fantastic career with more than 250 wins, nearly 2,500 strikeouts and a no hitter against the White Sox in 1984.
That no hitter was part of a magical season for the Tigers, one in which they went to the World Series and Morris was outstanding. He went the distance in both Games 1 and 4, picking up wins in both. The Tigers won the World Series Title in five games over the Padres.
"We had a great run," Morris says with a smile. "Some great memories. And I'll always be remembered in Detroit and until they win a world championship again, we are the last team to do it. Trust me I want to pass the baton on."
After 13 years in Detroit, he joined the Twins in 1991 and went back to the World Series. He won Game 1 and then threw a 10-inning shutout in Game 7. He was the World Series MVP and brought a world championship to his hometown.
"Every kid wants to, dreams about playing for his hometown team--I grew up in Minnesota," Morris says. "The Twins players of the 60's were my guys. Someday I wanted to play like them and be like them and to win a world championship and to have the kind of year I had personally in 1991, it was almost like a dream come true."
So much that Morris says he could not imagine how he could have possibly topped that one year in Minnesota so he didn't try. He signed with the Blue Jays and in a lesser role, won two more World Series rings in 92 and 93.
After one last season in Cleveland, Morris retired in 1994. The only thing that ever eluded him in his career---the Hall of Fame.
"I'm just grateful for what I've accomplished," Morris says. "I'm not disappointed in anything related to anything like that. Do I feel like I'm a Hall of Famer? Yeah, I do but in life you don't always get what you want."
Morris was on the Hall of Fame ballot for the maximum 15 years. He says he never had a very good relationship with the writers (the men who vote for the Hall of Fame) so perhaps that played a role in not making it in. But Morris is quick to point out he's not sure what would be a better path. He cites tradition as a reason the process should stay as is and points out that a vote from fans or players could turn into a popularity contest.
Morris doesn't have to deal with that anymore since he's no longer eligible to make it in the traditional way. He can still get in the Hall of Fame via the veterans committee in the next few years but he points out that won't be easy either.
Morris now works as analyst for the Twins but fans that came to see him Monday in South Bend, he'll forever be Tiger Jack.