Morris posts complete game in World Series debut

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

There would be other complete games in Jack Morris’ World Series career, ones that would test the limits of belief.

But on Oct. 9, 1984, Morris made his World Series debut with the Detroit Tigers – and provided a glimpse of what was to come.

In Game 1 of that year’s Fall Classic against the Padres, Morris scattered eight hits and three walks over nine innings, earning the victory in Detroit’s 3-2 win.

“This was my first World Series game and the crowd definitely affected me,” Morris told United Press International, referring to the raucous gathering of 57,908 fans at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium who watched the first World Series game in Padres history. “I’d have to say it upset us.”

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a Lou Whitaker double followed by an Alan Trammell RBI single.

But the Padres went up 2-1 in the bottom the first on singles by Steve Garvey and Graig Nettles and a two-run double by Terry Kennedy.

The score remained 2-1 until the top of the fifth, when Larry Herndon’s two-run home run scored Lance Parrish to give Detroit a 3-2 lead.
It was all the runs Morris would need – thanks to a couple of miscues by the Padres.

In the sixth inning, Nettles and Kennedy each singled to open the frame, putting runners on first and second.

But Bobby Brown, a reserve outfielder playing for the injured Kevin McReynolds, fanned while attempting to bunt the runners over – and Morris struck out the next two batters, Carmelo Martinez and Garry Templeton, to end the threat.

Then in the seventh inning, Padres’ designated hitter Kurt Bevacqua smashed a ball down the right field line to lead off the inning.

But the 37-year-old Bevacqua tried to stretch a double into a triple – and after stumbling between second and third was thrown out at third by Whitaker, who took the initial throw from right fielder Kirk Gibson.

Morris, an intense competitor who seemed to get better the deeper the game went, retired the Padres in order in the eighth and ninth innings to wrap up the win.

“The big turning point in the game was getting Bevacqua out at third base,” Morris said. “After that, I was never really in trouble.”

Morris would go on to start and win Game 4 of the World Series, pitching another complete game on three days’ rest while allowing five hits, no walks and just two earned runs in Detroit’s 4-2 victory.

The next night, the Tigers would wrap up the World Series title with a win in Game 5.

Seven years later, Morris would take the mound in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series after starting Games 1 and 4 for the Twins.

In Game 7, Morris pitched 10 shutout innings to lead Minnesota past Atlanta 1-0.

But in 1984, all that was yet to come.

“The fact that we won the game is more important than the home run,” Herndon told UPI following the Game 1 victory. “This was Jack’s game, and the night belongs to him.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series