Trammell and Morris overdue for the hall of fame

It was a long time ago when I first had the chance to see Alan Trammell and Jack Morris in person.

The Detroit Tigers were playing the Cleveland Indians on a late September evening at old Tiger Stadium, which was one of the great ballparks in the major leagues.

Trammell and Morris were just beginning their major league careers, having been called up just a year or two before from the minor leagues.

I had managed to get on-field credentials for the game that night, explaining that I was doing a number of feature stories about the Tigers in my capacity as sports editor at the Daily Mining Gazette.

Now, being on the field brings you much closer to the players and manager than you’ll ever be at a press conference.

I had the chance to talk to Detroit manager Sparky Anderson along the left-field line for a good 20 minutes before the game. I found him to be one of the most honest and outgoing people I’ve ever met.

Besides saying that he would win a World Series in five years (he did in 1984), Sparky said he had “at least three or four” future hall-of-famers on his roster.

“You’ve got Trammell and (Lou) Whitaker in the middle of the infield who are going to be great,” he said. “And I think (Lance) Parrish at catcher is going to be there. Jack Morris has hall-of-fame stuff on the mound.”

Trammell was another player who freely offered his time for a short interview that night. He was friendly and cooperative.

Morris, on the other hand, struck me as an aloof type who seemed more interested in talking about himself. It was an assessment that proved to be accurate.

The two stars helped lead the Tigers to the 1984 World Series — the last world title by the franchise.

Like most Tigers fans, I thought the two players would add a couple more World Series titles before they left the game.

Trammell went on to spend his entire career in Detroit, compiling a .285 lifetime batting average with 2,385 hits and 1,003 RBIs. He also anchored the infield with his steady shortstop play.

The mercurial Morris was the winningest pitcher in the 1980s and won 254 overall games, later pitching the Minnesota Twins to a World Series triumph.

The thing that impressed me the most about his pitching ability was that he often managed to come up big in the biggest games.

Critics always pointed to Trammell’s relatively low batting average, something that didn’t keep players like Bill Mazeroski of Pittsburgh and Ozzie Smith of St. Louis from making the hall much earlier.

And the naysayers always harped about the high ERA of Morris as a reason to keep him out. A 3.90 ERA would make you millions in today’s game.

So, it was good to see the two Tigers make it to the hall of fame. It was long overdue.