When Jack Morris pitched for the Detroit Tigers, he was known to have a bit of a fiery personality.
It’s no wonder then that the Tigers put sparklers along the path Morris would take from the dugout to a stage behind the mound at Comerica Park on Sunday, when they retired his No. 47.
Two weeks ago, he was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“Detroit is a part of who I am,” he told the fans and his former teammates gathered for the ceremony before the start of the Tigers’ game against his hometown Minnesota Twins, for whom Morris also played. “They gave me my chance. The organization drafted me out of college, and I never really thought that I would play this long in Detroit.”
Morris, now 63, pitched 18 seasons in the major leagues and retired in 1994. He spent 14 of those years (1977-90) in Detroit, along with two in Toronto and single seasons in Minnesota and Cleveland. A five-time All-Star with Detroit, he compiled a 198-150 record with the Tigers and completed 154 of the 408 starts he made for the team.
“Whenever any Tigers fan walks into this stadium and sees that number on the wall, they can explain to whoever they’re with the story of the great Jack Morris,” said Lance Parrish, Morris’ longtime catcher.
No one has worn No. 47 since Morris last did in 1990. His was the first Detroit number retired since former manager Sparky Anderson’s No. 11 in 2011 and the seventh overall. The No. 3 worn by fellow 2018 Hall of Fame member Alan Trammell will join the group in two weeks when it’s retired.
Morris was the winningest pitcher in the 1980s.
“All you did was dominate a decade,” Parrish said.
The only pregame negative for fans was the failure of commemorative Morris jerseys to be available. The Tigers issued the following statement Sunday morning:
“Due to issues with the shipping of today’s scheduled promotional giveaway, we are unable to distribute the Jack Morris 1984 replica road jersey at today’s game as planned. The first 10,000 fans through the gates at today’s game will be given a voucher to redeem the giveaway item. Additional details on redeeming the jersey can be found on Tigers social media channels, and Tigers.com. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.”
—Field Level Media