Tom Kelly on Jack Morris: ‘He’s a Hall of Famer’

In Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against Atlanta, which the Twins won, Jack Morris famously insisted on staying in the game and pitching into the 10th inning with the game still scoreless.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Kelly didn’t expect Jack Morris would get the votes needed to earn a trip to Cooperstown, but that didn’t make it any easier to swallow for Morris’ former manager.

"I’m very disappointed," said Kelly, who managed Morris during the pitcher’s only season with the Minnesota Twins in 1991. "He was great to have on the ball club. Every five days was a real treat to watch him pitch."

Morris was on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years after retiring in 1994. This year marked the final time he was eligible to be voted in by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Morris garnered just 61.5 percent of the votes, falling short of the 75 percent of votes needed for induction.

That doesn’t mean Morris’ chance at becoming a Hall of Famer are over entirely. He’ll have to wait until 2016 when he’s eligible to be selected by the veteran’s committee. Kelly, for one, is hoping that will be Morris’ ticket to Cooperstown.

"We’re just disappointed that Jack didn’t secure enough votes to get through that wall. It’s a very tough wall to break through," Kelly said. "We’ll just have to wait for the next avenue for him to come along and hopefully it’ll work out then that he gets in."

Morris’ lone year in Minnesota was a memorable one for both he and the Twins. It marked the franchise’s second World Series title, and much of that was due to Morris’ postseason heroics. He took the ball for the decisive Game 7 against Atlanta and famously insisted on staying in the game and pitching into the 10th inning with the game still scoreless.

That competitive nature was indicative of Morris’ career. He finished his 18-year career with 175 complete games, including 10 or more each year from 1985 to 1991. During that 1991 season with the Twins, Morris started a league-best 35 games and went 18-12 with a 3.43 ERA.

"His record and numbers speak for themselves," Kelly said. "He was the most dominant pitcher or one of the most dominant pitchers of his era. He demanded an awful lot of respect every time he took the mound."

Morris spent a total of 18 seasons in the majors and was a 20-game winner three times. He finished with a career record of 254-186 and an ERA of 3.90. Morris’ number of Hall of Fame votes decreased from last year, when he received 67.7 percent of the votes in 2013.

Morris was left on the outside looking in as former Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and White Sox slugger Frank Thomas were the three players inducted in this year’s Hall of Fame class.

"The competition this year was very stern. Very, very talented people on that list of men eligible," Kelly. "To get as many votes as he did against that competition is very, very noteworthy. I think last year was probably his best shot, knowing what was coming around the corner this year. I wasn’t surprised to see that he didn’t get in. All I know is that in my mind and in a lot of other people’s minds in the game of baseball, he’s a Hall of Famer."

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