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December 11, 2017
JON SHESTAKOFSKY: Good morning. My name is Jon Shestakofsky, vice president of communications and education for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Modern Baseball Era Committee introductory press conference.
Joining me up on stage are Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame; the two newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, as well chairman of the board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Jane Forbes Clark.
Now I'd like to invite Jane to give some remarks.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Thank you, Jon.
Thank you all of you for being here today. As you know, the Baseball Hall of Fame's 16-member Modern Baseball Era Committee met yesterday to consider ten candidates for election to the Hall of Fame. The candidates all were looked at for their contributions to the game between 1970 and 1987. The ballot, selected by an 11-member Historical Overview Committee of the Baseball Writers Association of America, was comprised of nine former players and one executive.
And I'd like now to introduce you to the 16 members of the committee, some of whom are here today. And I'd like to ask them to stand when I introduce them: Sandy Alderson, George Brett, Bobby Cox, Bob Elliott, Steve Hurt, Jason Stark, John Schuerholz, and Robin Yount. Also on the committee but unable to attend today's press conference were Paul Beeston, Rod Carew, Bob Castellini, Bill DeWitt, Dennis Eckersley, David Glass, Don Sutton, and Dave Whitfield.
And on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame, I would like to thank the committee for their thoughtful, productive work. You heard the results last night on MLB Network. They elected former teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell to one of sport's most elite fraternities.
Our first electee, a man whose 18-year career with the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota twins, Toronto Blue Jays, and Cleveland Indians was defined by gritty pitching performances. He played for four World Series winning teams and earned MVP honors in the 1991 World Series with a ten-inning shutout in Game 7.
During the 1980s, he averaged 244 innings per season, and no other pitcher came close to his total of 162 wins in that decade. The ace of his teams, he started 14 Opening Day games, a total surpassed only by Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
Please welcome to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's class of 2018 Jack Morris.
The second player elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday was another anchor to the great Tigers teams of the 1980s. He spent 20 years as Detroit's shortstop, putting together an exceptional career, excellent in all facets of the game. He batted at least .300 in seven different seasons and was always their consistent and reliable shortstop.
He helped bring a championship to Detroit in 1984 and was named that year's World Series MVP after batting .450 with two home runs in five games. He now joins the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2018, Alan Trammell.
We're so happy to welcome you to Cooperstown. You're now teammates again, and we'd like to ask you to put on the Hall of Fame jerseys.
ALAN TRAMMELL: How's it look, buddy?
JACK MORRIS: Makes you look good.
JANE FORBES CLARK: We're looking forward to our induction ceremony in Cooperstown on Sunday, July 29th, where Jack and Alan will be joined by any electees who emerge from the BBWAA voting which will be announced in January.
Thank you, again, for coming. I'm going to turn the microphone back over to Jon. Thank you.
JON SHESTAKOFSKY: Thank you, Jane.
Now, before we open for questions, our two electees would like to share a few opening remarks. We'll start with Jack.
JACK MORRIS: Obviously, this is a very humbling point in my life. I am very proud and honored to join some of my heroes here and a lot of other guys that aren't here. It's been a while. It's been a tremendous learning experience for me, something that I don't regret today.
I'm especially proud to go in with my friend and a guy who helped define who I was. It doesn't get any better for me.
There's so many things that I am grateful for, and I hope to be able to share them with you at some point, but the one thing I want you all to know is you don't get to the Hall of Fame on your own. And I certainly have to acknowledge so many people that helped me be able to sit here today and give thanks -- teammates, coaches, mentors, opposition. It's all part of the reason we're here and to be able to celebrate.
I hope that, during the course of the next few months, and maybe especially if I can get through the speech in Cooperstown -- Al's got the over/under. Not really good, I might not make it through. I'm going to do my best. I'm going to remember The King's Speech and see if I can work on it.
And just let people know that we've got a lot to be thankful for, all of us, things beyond baseball. But baseball is what we're here to celebrate, and I think Tram and I played it with our hearts. We did it the right way, proud of that, and just honored to represent a generation that -- not only in Detroit, but the '80s itself, to join guys like George and Robin. Al, of course, is here. Bobby. It's just special for me.
It's been a little hard at times to see guys way younger than me being first. I'm proud of them. I'm happy for them. But I'm so happy that I can go in with guys that were my peers and maybe get to know each other better and celebrate.
I want to thank everybody for being here. I hope I can represent the people that have supported me well. I'll do my best.
And I'm going to turn it over to my buddy. Thank you.
ALAN TRAMMELL: Thank you, Jack, Hall of Famers, the committee.
To say that I'm honored, my gosh, that's an understatement. I've prided myself for years of being prepared, and that was kind of my style of how I played, but I find myself with my mind drifting constantly. I'm trying to stay on task, and I'm having a very difficult time doing it. I'm going to be honest. I feel a little bit out of place.
The Hall of Fame, that's got a great ring to it, but when I hear "Alan Trammell, Hall of Fame," it hasn't resonated yet, and I'm just speaking from the heart.
As things unfold over the next few months, there's a lot of things that are going to be happening. To go in with my teammate Jack Morris, couldn't get any better. We went through a lot of good and some down times, but that's part of the process.
Just to give you a little history, if you're not aware, both Jack and I signed back in 1976 in the same draft. So just kind of a coincidence that, lo and behold, we get elected into the Hall of Fame together. It's kind of mind boggling. It really is.
This morning has been -- again, to say I'm nervous is an understatement as well. Talking to Robin and George, John and Bobby. I saw Al last night in our Tiger room. Obviously feel very comfortable around these guys. And as the time goes on, I think that's going to be helpful through this process or for this process to be around guys that you're comfortable with. But to be honest with you, I'm still in awe, and I don't know when that's going to leave. I guess that's the little boy still in me.
Again, extremely honored and proud and humbled to be a part of this. I still again have a hard time saying that, "Hall of Fame, Alan Trammell," but I guess I'd better get used to it. But to be part of a dream team, you can't envision that. Young boy, all I wanted to do was become a Major League Baseball player. And now to become a Hall of Famer, it's really undescribable. Thank you.
JON SHESTAKOFSKY: Thanks, Alan, and thank you, Jack.
We will now take questions, and if you'd like to ask a question, please raise your hand and wait for a microphone.
Q. Gentlemen, congrats, first of all. For both of you guys, you look in the front row here and see some of the faces, former peers who were part of this voting process. What does that element of this experience mean to you to be celebrated by some of your own peers?
JACK MORRIS: It's so humbling. Tram and I were both on the writers ballot for the maximum amount of time, 15 years. I came very close. Tram was behind, in my opinion, where he should have been. But the process didn't work for us for a lot of reasons.
You want all the writers to know that I'm not mad at any of you. 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.
I have to thank this group of people that voted for us, and it is somewhat more gratifying knowing that the guys that I tried to get out and the people that I competed against and the guys that worked the front office and made decisions are the people that helped us be here today. It's wonderful. I don't know how to describe it any other way.
But I also want to appreciate and acknowledge all the writers who did support me and even the guys who didn't because that's our country. We have that right. And we shall cherish that right, and I respect everybody for whatever they thought.
Now that I'm in, I don't have to worry about that anymore (laughter).
ALAN TRAMMELL: Well said. Well said. I believe it's even better. Our peers who recognize -- again, when I ranked myself as a player, I thought I could do a lot of things well, but probably one thing -- 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. That's just the good Lord gave me this ability, and I tried to do the best I could.
But for my peers to be able to recognize that, that's very much appreciated, very much appreciated. I look at that, and I'll look on it for my lifetime very fondly, that it didn't go unrecognized. Again, just proud to be a part of this thing. I know this is just the start of a whirlwind tour here for the next few months.
I know I was short, and I have no disrespect for any of the years. I still was going to go on with my life. I'm still very fortunate. I've used this story and this line a few times: I'll still a big little kid. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. I enjoy the game. I always have. It's the only thing that I've done. Like a lot of us that George and Rob and I can tell, they signed out of high school, like I did, and that's really been our lives, and I'm proud of that.
Thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate it.
Q. Where were you when you found out what was -- who did you call? What was your reaction? Tell us those stories.
JACK MORRIS: I was here in Orlando. My group, my friends from MLB.com got me in early. Mike Siano, who's in attendance here now, needed a little time to reflect. I told him I needed some personal time. To quote a friend of mine, I needed a little time with my own damn self. Good or bad, I needed some time to breathe.
I was told that I was going to get a call between 5:15 and 5:45, and at 5:15 I no more than got to my room, and I get a text from Mike saying if I heard anything yet. And I started laughing. He wasn't there, but I texted him back just saying one simple word, no. But I started laughing, and I said, my God, this guy is nervous. I said, I just got back. They're not going to call me right now.
Well, at 5:30, he texted me again. Heard anything yet? No. And I wasn't worried. I was starting to prepare for my comments to you folks had I not made it. And like I've told my buddies, they were much better than these. I had some stuff dialled in for you. All good stuff too, by the way.
And then at 5:35, still nothing. About 5:40, Mike texted me one more time, and he said, have you heard anything?
And I texted him back and said, no.
He says, well, hang in there. It's not over yet.
And I started thinking, well, does he know something that I don't know? And I kind of just said, well, that's it. It's over.
And right at 5:45, Jane called me, and I was a wreck ever since. It's mainly because I wasn't prepared for this. I didn't expect this. That's the honest to God truth. The first thing I was told was don't tell anybody until 6:15, until they announce it on MLB Network.
And I sat there for ten minutes, and I said, I've waited for 18 years. I'm going to call my wife. So I did. Anyway, calling my family was the most emotional part. I got done with all my phone calls to my family members, and Mike's at the door. And when he walked in, he saw what a wreck I was, and I said, okay, now that's over with. Now I'm done with that. And here I go again, and I'm going to do this a lot, I know it, but I'll get through it.
Then the phone blew up, and I've got at least 200 people to call to thank. It's going to take a while. So if any of you are seeing this at home, patience. I'm going to get back to you because I want to talk to you. But I'm grateful. And that's how it happened.
ALAN TRAMMELL: My story was a little bit different, Jack. We've rehashed this a few times, and we've had a few laughs.
I was on a flight from San Diego to Orlando to attend the Winter Meetings anyways, representing the Tigers. My flight landed approximately 5:50, and I was deplaning, trying to get off the plane when I got the call from Jane. That is a true story.
There was numerous kids. I wanted to be emotional and jump and down and do something, but I think it was a little bit out of place to do that. So I had to kind of keep it in check a little bit. Say, really? Unbelievable. My voice too loud.
And then it took a while to get off the plane. That contingency of the San Diego guys has a couple of guys that potentially could be up here in a short period of time, one being Trevor Hoffman, one being Bruce Bochy. Buddy Black was on that flight, Brad Ausmus, and quite a few others, Rick Renteria.
And I purposely waited, being that I was kind of towards the back of the plane, Jane had asked me, as she did to Jack, to wait until 6:15. So I waited, and I kind of stalled for a few minutes, going to the restroom, getting down to baggage claim. Our bags had not come out.
And I saw this group, and it was right at 6:15. And as I walked up, they were all looking, waiting for me. I gave them the thumbs up. Then we took a little team picture kind of there. That's how it happened for me.
So I was able to share that with a group of guys. I can't forget Mr. John Boggs was down there also, who I've known for many, many years, and he was also part of that entourage.
So, again, it's a good time. I don't know if I could have dreamt that any better as far as the way that came down, but to be able to celebrate that with a few.
Jack, we're not done. I know this is just the start of this little whirlwind tour, as I mentioned. My mind is drifting as I'm speaking. So, again, that was the story. That's how I got to news from Jane and Jon.
Q. Congratulations to both you guys. Well deserved.
ALAN TRAMMELL: Thank you, Bruce.
Q. Both of you always knew you were winners. You both always knew you were great players. But did the process ever create any self-doubt over the years, knowing that you had to go through all of this to get to this point?
ALAN TRAMMELL: Want me to go first this time? In my opinion, for me, no. I know Jack, I think, has a different answer, but, again, I'm speaking for myself.
So grateful. I mean, I am a Hall of Famer now. And, again, I'm having a hard time, but I am. It feels good. It really does.
But whether or not it happened, I was going to be the same guy. That's how I viewed it. I really do. And I know that I had a lot of people pulling for me for a lot of years that talked to me and thought I belonged. And I appreciate that for each and every one. Up to this point, it was a tad short.
You know what, there's that group of the other ten on that list that didn't make it. They're pretty damn good ball players, and that's kind of how I viewed it.
So happy and grateful to be a part, but if it didn't, I wouldn't have went along with my life and been part of baseball. I still feel very fortunate that I'm part of Major League Baseball, that they've allowed me to be a part. Again, while I still have the energy, I hope to continue to do that. But that's how I feel about it, Bruce.
JACK MORRIS: I couldn't echo that any more. I think he nailed it for both of us, quite honestly. The one thing I can say is that after failing on the writers ballot, reality sinks in. For me, it was a wonderful learning time because I had to remind myself of how much I am grateful for without the Hall of Fame.
And then you get this wonderful news from your peers, and it happens, and Tram and I are both having a tough time grasping that right now. But it's more for me -- I hope you really understand what I'm saying. It's more for me, for the people that were in my corner than me, myself, right now. I think, had I made it on the first ballot, I wouldn't have that same feeling. So I'm grateful for the time because it has taught me a lot.
It's a wonderful world. There's a lot of love, a lot of people that were behind both of us. I was behind him the whole time. There's a lot of guys that haven't got in yet that I'm still behind. Like Alan, I want to acknowledge not only these guys that helped us be here today but the guys who didn't make it because we both feel and understand what they go through.
You just got to remember -- and I was set. I was determined to tell the world after this ballot that, if I didn't make it, maybe I have to start accepting the fact that I was that guy really close because somewhere along the line, there's going to be those guys. And I was okay with it. I came to peace with it.
So I'm overwhelmed. I'm grateful. I'm honored and very humbled. But I think the time has taught me more valuable lessons than that itself, and if I can't share it with people that care, I'm an island. I want to share it.
Q. Hey, guys, congratulations. One man who won't be there in July, who I'm sure would have been out of his mind, Sparky Anderson. To each of you, what was his role influencing the early part of your careers especially?
JACK MORRIS: Let me go first. Sparky made me a ballplayer, whether I liked it or not. We were unhealthy too close. He wasn't my manager. He was my older brother, my dad, and I love both of them. Well, I don't have an older brother, but I have a younger brother. I never loved Sparky, but I wanted to hug him and kick him in the butt at the same time almost every day.
What I can tell you is he brought out the best in both of us, and not only us, but our teams. There's a crazy, insane way he did it. It defies all logic. It doesn't fall into any analytic. But he knew what he was doing, and I love the man, will forever. Wish he was here to celebrate with us.
ALAN TRAMMELL: He was my number one mentor. There's so many, and I'm thinking about a speech already on July 29th. He'll be a big part of that. But I'm looking at Bobby and the Hall of Fame managers and any of the real good ones. They had the ability to push the right buttons. And it was tough love. It was an era, almost an extension of your parents about, again, the discipline and structure that I believe in very strongly. And that's what he did.
As young athletes, we thought we were good, and we thought we knew what we were doing. And little did we know, we didn't know squat. We really didn't. And he was the man that got us over the hump. Going back to the Big Red Machine that, again, as a young player, when Sparky came to the Tigers, I remember him as a fan of the game, as the manager of the Big Red Machine. Who didn't? I thought, here's this guy coming over to the Tigers. I'm in awe of him.
I found out a lot more about him and played for him for 17 years. So we had a very special relationship. But it was tough early on, but he did it for a reason, and I am very thankful and appreciative that our lives crossed because without him, it wouldn't have been the same.
I know he's looking. I know he's looking down on us smiling. But he was a good man, a very good man. And, again, I'm very thankful that I played for him for that many years.
Q. You guys mentioned that you both came in in the same draft, came up through the same system, same team, all that kind of stuff. Can you talk about what you saw in each other in those early days? And how you were able to develop from a draft pick to a minor leaguer to what eventually became a Hall of Famer.
ALAN TRAMMELL: Well, being in the right place at the right time doesn't hurt. What I mean by that is timing in life is a lot. And at the time of the mid-' 70s, the Tigers weren't very good. The draft was different at that particular time. We should have had the No. 1 pick in 1976. We had the second. But it was when they rotated it. It was American and National League, so the National League had the No. 1 pick that year. We deserved it because we had the worst record in baseball in '75.
So the process that had started years before with some of the players like Lance Parrish and Mark Fidrych and others -- I'm not going to be able to name them all, but those are some of the names. And then in '76, they drafted Jack and myself, another pitcher on our team that was a mainstay for a number of years, Dan Petri.
And I'm going to throw a little tidbit in there, and this is for the Tigers and the way that at that time -- they were on the ball at this particular time. They drafted another shortstop in the eighth round that year who didn't sign with us, and he's in the Hall of Fame. His name is Ozzie Smith. Tigers drafted him in 1976. That was our draft. And then he went back and played his senior year and then was drafted by the Padres.
But they were doing a good job, and we needed to do a good job because we were not very good, as I mentioned. That was kind of the start of this nucleus. The timing, as I mentioned, what that does is that allows you -- we did well enough for them to advance us. If we were in an organization that was winning at the major league level, they wouldn't have rushed us like they did. But I'm thankful that they did, and I think George and Robin can relate to that because I think they came in similar scenarios, that timing, and did well. Obviously, you've got to do something.
But I signed at 160, 165 pounds. I was not ready. I could play defense. That's the one thing I will say initially I could do, and that kept me in the big leagues. But like Sparky used to say -- and he used to tick me off -- he said, you look like you're hitting with a wet newspaper. And that was the kind of driving forces that would be behind me. Like, okay, I'm going to show this. I used to hit ninth. I didn't want to hit ninth, but that's where I deserved to hit until I improved, until I got better.
This process all went quickly because of the fact we weren't very good at that particular time at the major leagues, and Jack was part of that. He had a very good arm. He was a little erratic with his control, but you know what, he was able to figure it out rather quickly, but he can tell you that story. But it all happened rather quickly, but it was because of the timing, as far as I'm concerned. That was very helpful and instrumental to us getting to the big leagues at an early age.
I came up at 19. These guys are the same thing. They come up as teenagers. That doesn't usually happen. I probably didn't deserve it, but I'm not complaining.
JACK MORRIS: Again, Tram nailed it. The one thing I will say is we all had chances and opportunities. We were on the quick path to the big leagues because of a rather poor team at the time and a rebuilding stage. But we had to take advantages of our chances, and we were lucky enough to be able to do that. Then it all started to blossom.
I think the greatest lessons we learned to have a year like '84, which we're both pretty dang proud of, is the fact that we took a whooping for a couple years when we were young in the big leagues. Our team stunk. I stunk. He stunk. We all stunk.
But after you keep battling, and if you've got any heart at all, you look across the field and say, why are these guys whooping on us? Getting tired of this. We've got to do better. And we did, we started getting better. And pretty soon we could look across that field and say we're as good as you, and now we've got to prove it.
Then '84 shows up, and we proved it. So a lot of pride there in that part of it. But I think luck has a lot to do with it, timing obviously, and then the right people to help guide us in the right direction.
Q. Congratulations, guys. The one nonplayer on your ballot was Marvin Miller. You guys both played during the free agency era. Just wondering your feelings on Marvin and whether you think he deserves inclusion along with you guys.
ALAN TRAMMELL: I know he's being considered for sure and rightfully so. He was very instrumental. We're all very thankful and grateful for what Marvin did for all of us. My gosh. I hope that the young players today recognize that, that without him, wow, the game has changed, and it's changed for the better.
I know that he's being considered, and I would be -- in my opinion, I'd be shocked if he's not elected sometime here in the near future.
JACK MORRIS: Again, ditto. I'm not at liberty to make those decisions, and if we ever have the greatest reality show ever, it would be that group of guys sitting in the room yesterday trying to hammer out those thoughts and ideas. I'm still in awe that I got the votes needed because the numbers didn't make sense.
But Marvin, I'm sure, if they could share, would want to share. I'm sure there was a healthy discussion about his validity. All I can say is I owe him a great bit. 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. So I'll always be a strong supporter of him.
Q. Alan, hoping you can just talk a little bit about -- you had such a special relationship on the field with Lou Whittaker. That's all those years of Lou Whitaker. Wondering if you might talk a little bit about him and maybe him as a Hall of Fame candidate.
ALAN TRAMMELL: I was waiting for that one and deservedly so because we're linked together. Regardless of my comments, and people I'm sure have heard my story many times. I have a dream, and I'm entitled to my opinion. My dream is as a double play combination. We did it longer than any team in the history of the game. We're linked together, as we should be. He's a friend of mine. He was an excellent player.
I'm hoping at some point that my dream -- the dream didn't happen that we would go in together this year. I'm going in with my other buddy Jack, and I'm grateful and honored, as we've said many times. And I'm hoping that someday that there is some more talk and that it does happen. Again, I'm entitled to my opinions and my dreams. And I do hope -- but that will never change our relationship. It will never change the fact that we're the longest running double play combination in the history of baseball. It's got a good ring to it. Got a good ring to it.
So that's my take. We'll love him regardless, but, again, I'm hoping that someday.
JON SHESTAKOFSKY: Thank you all for joining us today. Congratulations again to Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 29th, 2018, in Cooperstown, New York. We hope to see all of you out there induction weekend. Thanks so much.
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