20th anniversary: The Jack Morris game

Twenty years ago, one of the greatest games in World Series history occurred—a game that ended arguably the greatest World Series of them all.

On Oct. 27, 1991, the Braves and Twins tangled in Game Seven of their hard-fought Fall Classic. It’s gone down in lore as the Jack Morris Game, as on that day the veteran workhorse pitched a complete-game, ten-inning shutout to guide the Twins to a 1-0 win and their world title.

For those that support Morris’ Cooperstown candidacy, the game is the ultimate symbol of what sort of man he was—someone who pitched well enough to win and could go the distance, no matter how long the game lasted.

It was one of the greatest clutch pitching performances of all-time. The timing of the game made it that much more impressive. By timing, I don’t mean Game Seven, though obviously that’s the main reason it’s so notable. By timing, I mean the early 1990s.

In the previous ten seasons, a pitcher had tossed a complete-game shutout lasting at least 10 innings on 11 different occasions. No, it was far from common, but it did happen. In fact, in 1990, Oakland’s Dave Stewart tossed an 11-inning complete-game shutout.

But the next 10 years would be very different. After Morris’ He-man shutout in the 1991 World Series, no one threw an extra-inning, complete-game shutout in all of 1992. Or 1993. Or 1994. Or for the rest of the 1990s.

It didn’t happen again until Roy Halladay did it on Sept. 6, 2003. Think about that for a second: What Morris did in the Game Seven of the World Series wasn’t done by any pitcher in the next 50,000 major league starts. Yeah, I’d say Morris had good timing to pull off the greatest game of his life.

There are some other interesting facts about this game. Did you know the home plate umpire that night was Don Denkinger? Yep, the man who made the most notorious call in official-dom during the 1985 World Series, when he called a clearly out runner safe at first in Game Six, inadvertently sparking a comeback. Denkinger also worked the plate in Game Seven in 1985, making him one of only three umps to work the plate in the final game of two World Series that went the distance.

Tom Gorman did it in 1958 and 1968. (Interestingly, both of those World Series saw a team come back from a three-games-to-one deficit to win it all). The first two best-of-seven series to go the distance, the 1909 and 1912 ones, both featured umpire Silk O’Laughlin at the plate in the final game. Technically, 1912’s final game was a Game Eight due to an earlier tie, but the key part was O’Laughlin worked it.

Other events also celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold for those that just want to skim.

Day-versaries

3,000 days since Rafael Furcal of the Braves becomes only the second NL player in 76 years to pull of an unassisted triple play.

6,000 days since Dennis Eckersley gets his 300th career save.

6,000 days since the White Sox and Rangers play the longest doubleheader, a 459-minute monster in the South Side of Chicago. The White Sox win the first game 10-8, then lose 13-6 in the second. Only a few hundred diehards survive the affair.

6,000 days since Mike Blowers drives in eight runs for the Mariners.

7,000 days since the Mets trade David Cone to the Blue Jays for Jeff Kent and a player to be named later.

8,000 days since the Angels sign free agent Mark Langston.

10,000 days since Gary Carter mashes his 200th career home run. It comes in the same doubleheader he connects for No. 199.

10,000 days since Greg Luzinski belts a grand slam for the second straight game, becoming the 10th man ever to do that.

15,000 days since “Every day” Eddie Guardado is born.

Anniversaries

1909 The Dodgers sign free agent Bill Dahlen.

1911 Clark Griffith buys a tenth of the Washington Senators, making him the single largest shareholder in the club. The Griffith family will control the franchise for a little over 70 years. Griffith also makes himself team manager.

1922 Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner is born.

1924 The Cubs and Pirates engage in a big trade. The Cubs get Rabbit Maranville, Charlie Grimm and Wilbur Cooper while the Pirates get George Grantham, Vic Aldridge, and Al Niehaus.

1933 Pumpsie Green, the first black ever to play for the Red Sox, is born.

1939 The Pirates purchase Spud Davis from the Phillies.

1950 The Indians release Joe Gordon.

1952 Pete Vuckovich, one-time Cy Young Award winner, is born.

1953 U L Washington, infielder and toothpick aficionado, is born.

1955 Clark Griffith dies, 44 years to the day after entering the ownership ranks.

1965 The Cardinals trade Bill White, Dick Groat, and Bob Uecker to the Phillies for Pat Corrales, Alex Johnson, and Art Mahaffey.

1966 St. Louis signs amateur free agent Jose Cruz. Sr.

1972 The Braves trade Rico Carty to the Rangers.

1972 Boston releases pitcher Gary Peters.

1972 Brad Radke, control specialist starting pitcher with the Twins, is born.

1972 The Twins trade catcher Rick Dempsey to the Yankees.

1978 The Red Sox trade offensive specialist Mike Easler from the Pirates. They’ll trade him back to Pittsburgh in March of 1979.

1978 Rube Walberg, pitcher, dies.

1980 The Red Sox hire Ralph Houk as their new manager.

1980 Houston owner John McMullen fires GM Tal Smith, a highly respected executive. In fact, this move is so unpopular that minority owners will revolt and force out McMullen.

1985 The St. Louis Cardinals implode in one of the ugliest displays of baseball in history. After losing the day before partially due to a bad call by umpire Don Denkinger (there also is a series of misplays by St. Louis in that game, but they put all the blame on Denkinger), the Cardinals melt down in epic fashion tonight in Game Seven.

Not only do they lose 11-0, but manager Whitey Herzog is ejected, and pitcher Joaquin Andujar is not only ejected but has to be dragged from the field by his teammates. Oh, and fellow pitcher John Tudor injures his pitching hand punching a fan in the clubhouse (not a spectator, a mechanical fan).

1992 The Rockies name Don Baylor their first manager in franchise history.

1998 President Clinton signs a bill overturning part of MLB’s longstanding anti-trust exemption.

2004 Barry Bonds’ 700th home run ball sells at an auction for $804,129.

2006 Knuckleball pitcher Joe Niekro dies.

2008 Game Five of the World Series becomes the scene of a monsoon. The Phillies and Rays play through insane conditions. When a run finally ties the game 2-2, it’s finally halted and will be continued two days later when the weather allows. This leads to a rule change that all postseason games must be played to a full nine innings no matter what.

2009 The Astros announces the hiring of manager Brad Mills.

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