LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- What could wind up becoming a loaded 2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame class begins with a 1984 Tigers two-fer that ends two long and agonizing waits for Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.Morris, the hero of the Twins' Game 7 triumph in the 1991 World
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- What could wind up becoming a loaded 2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame class begins with a 1984 Tigers two-fer that ends two long and agonizing waits for Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.
Morris, the hero of the Twins' Game 7 triumph in the 1991 World Series and winner of 254 regular-season games in his 18 seasons, and Trammell, the four-time Gold Glove winner and MVP of the '84 Fall Classic, were teammates on the last Tigers team to win it all, and they will be joyously joined again in Cooperstown next summer. In the first big news from baseball's Winter Meetings this week, Morris was named on 14 and Trammell on 13 of the 16 ballots cast by the Hall's Modern Baseball Era Committee on Sunday. A candidate had to appear on at least 75 percent of ballots to gain entry.
"I've got to believe, in a crazy sort of way, that this is the sweetest way to go in," Morris said. "To go in with a guy who meant so much to me and, in my opinion, was overlooked."
Trammell and Morris were among 10 candidates on the Modern Era ballot, which includes those whose most significant career impact was realized between 1970-87. They became the first living players to be elected into the Hall by a small committee since Bill Mazeroski in 2001.
"Overwhelmed," Trammell said. "My mind is a whirlwind. I thought that Jack was well-deserving and in my opinion should've been in a few years ago. But nevertheless, it's an honor to go in with Jack and whoever is inducted from the writers' ballot. It's going to be a great class. I'm honored to be a part of it."
The Baseball Writers' Association of America is in the process of compiling ballots for its 2018 class, which will be announced at 6 p.m. ET on Jan. 24 on MLB Network. With both Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero having appeared on north of 70 percent of ballots last year, and with first-time candidates Chipper Jones and Jim Thome among those with particularly compelling Cooperstown cases, this could be a grand group going in together July 29.
• Hall of Fame inductees, year by year
It is the inherent goal of the smaller Hall voting committees, which were revamped from the former Veterans Committee process in 2016, to give added consideration to those whose careers and impact might not have been given their just due on the BBWAA ballot. Both Morris and Trammell spent a full 15 years on the BBWAA ballot (the cutoff has since been amended to 10 years) without getting in. Trammell's highest vote percentage had been 40.9 in his final year of eligibility in 2016, while Morris maxed out at 67.7 percent in his second-to-last year of eligibility in 2013.
The reward for both men finally arrived in their first year of consideration by a smaller committee.
"You appreciate it so much," Morris said. "I think I have a better understanding of what it all means now than I ever would have on the first ballot. I know the emotions some of those guys are going through who didn't make it. I thought every guy had a legitimate chance. They had reasons to be considered, for sure. I hope there's no animosity because I made it, because I certainly was pulling for them."
With 12 votes required for entry, former catcher Ted Simmons received 11 votes, former MLB Players Association leader Marvin Miller received seven and Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Luis Tiant each received fewer than seven votes (the Hall did not reveal their exact tallies).
The 16-member Modern Baseball Era Committee was comprised of Hall of Fame members George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount; Major League executives Sandy Alderson, Paul Beeston, Bob Castellini, Bill DeWitt and David Glass; and veteran historians Bob Elliott, Steve Hirdt and Jayson Stark.
"To have the Hall of Famers during our era vote for us is very meaningful," Trammell said. "It means a lot. It's very humbling."
Trammell played all 20 of his MLB seasons with the Tigers, from 1977-96, including the first 14 seasons of his career as a teammate of Morris. In the '84 World Series against the Padres, he hit .450 (9-for-20) with a double and two home runs to earn MVP honors. He also hit .364 and homered in that year's American League Championship Series against the Royals.
"[A scout once told me] if you play good defense and you hit .250," Trammell said, "you'll play in the big leagues for a long time."
Morris pitched for the Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays and Indians from 1977-94. He threw a no-hitter during that aforementioned '84 season, shutting down the White Sox on April 7 at Comiskey Park. In his epic Game 7 performance in 1991, he outdueled the Braves' John Smoltz, a 2015 Hall of Fame entrant, over 10 scoreless innings in a 1-0 win that clinched the Twins' second World Series title in four years.
"There's no question it's one of my defining moments in baseball, because it was the only Game 7 that I pitched," Morris said. "I knew the importance of it, but I was also at the apex of my career both mentally and physically. I've never pitched a game where I had better focus, and I don't know why. I had the best mindset I've had in my entire career."
The Hall cases for both Morris and Trammell have generated plenty of discussion over the years. Interestingly, Trammell was a darling of the advanced analytical community, while Morris' credentials were often touted by those with more of an "old school" bent. Trammell had a career Wins Above Replacement mark of 70.4 (as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com), just behind that of likely Hall of Famer Derek Jeter (71.8) and just ahead of that of Hall of Famers Barry Larkin and Bobby Wallace (70.2). Morris' 44.1 career WAR pales in comparison to that of the average Hall of Famer, but his lofty win total, 175 career complete games and Game 7 gem were his strongest selling points.
After all the debates and deliberations, Morris and Trammell go in together. Teammates then and classmates now.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.