For 14 seasons, from 1979 to 1992, Morris started more games, pitched more innings, completed more games, struck out more batters, and won more games than any other pitcher in the game. He was the ace of three pennant-winning teams: the ’84 Detroit Tigers, ’91 Minnesota Twins, and ’92 Toronto Blue Jays. He was never a dominant pitcher, and his 3.90 ERA shows that he often gave up big innings, but he often settled down and usually pitched deep into games for his managers.
In his first eight postseason starts, Morris was 7-1 with a 2.60 ERA, winning Game One of his team’s series four times. However, he struggled to a 7.43 ERA in his last four postseason starts at age 37 in ’92 for the Jays. Nevertheless, Morris was the most important postseason pitcher of the 1980s and early 1990s. He also did many other things indicative of an ace – starting 14 opening day games, throwing a no-hitter, and logging lots of innings (240+ in 10 different seasons).
Morris is one of the most controversial Hall of Fame candidates, having spent a full 15 years on the Baseball Writers’ ballot and gainign a lot of attention from his supporters and critics. Staying in the eye of the public as a broadcaster for his hometown Twins, Morris gained support over the years, finally getting over 50 and then 60%, but failing to earn election. Only he and Gil Hodges have earned that much support and not been elected to the Hall of Fame via the writers.
Morris’ Hall of Fame candidacy can be epitomized in two of his most famous games. In April of 1984 he walked six batters and loaded the bases as he had a hard time controlling his split-finger fastball early in a game against the White Sox in Chicago. Yet, he fought his way through the struggles and tossed a no-hitter. In Game Seven of the ’91 World Series, Morris was absolutely dominating as he fired a 10-inning shutout to outduel John Smoltz and give the Twins their second World Series title.