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Alomar thinks there's a spot in Cooperstown for Morris

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The Canadian Press
1/9/2014 4:56:24 PM
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TORONTO -- He's been snubbed a final time by the Baseball Writers Association of America, but Roberto Alomar believes there's a spot in Cooperstown for Jack Morris.

Morris was denied induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, his 15th and final year on the writers' ballot. The veteran right-hander was named on 61.5 per cent of BWAA votes, well short of the 75 per cent minimum requirement.

"You feel disappointed but on the other hand it's something I can't vote for," Alomar, currently a special advisor with the Blue Jays, said Thursday. "He has my vote.

"I would love to see him in the Hall of Fame already."

Alomar, 45, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. The 12-time all-star second baseman and Morris were Toronto teammates in 1992 and 1993 when the Blue Jays captured consecutive World Series titles.

Morris won 259 games over 18 seasons with Detroit, Minnesota, Toronto and Cleveland. Morris claimed more victories in the 1980s than any other pitcher and threw a dramatic complete-game, 10-inning shutout to win Game 7 of the '91 World Series for the Twins.

But Morris's critics point to his lofty earned-run average (3.90) and failure to capture a Cy Young award -- given annually to the top pitchers in the American and National Leagues -- as reasons against his induction into Cooperstown.

After leading Minnesota to its World Series crown, Morris signed as a free agent with Toronto and won 21 games -- tops in the majors -- with a 4.04 ERA in '92. Although he struggled in the playoffs, Morris was the Jays' opening-day starter the following year.

However, after posting a 7-12 record with a 6.19 ERA, Morris failed to see any playoff action in '93. The five-time all-star later signed with Cleveland but was released in early August with 10-6 record and 5.60 ERA.

Morris's Hall of Fame quest isn't necessarily over. He could still be nominated by the Veterans Committee, which reconsiders the careers of retired players bypassed by baseball writers.

However, Morris must now wait three years to become eligible for consideration. But Alomar is confident it will be well worth it.

"No, it's not over," Alomar said. "I think eventually he'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"Sometimes it's takes longer for others but as long as you get in, that's all that matters."

Alomar was back on the Rogers Centre turf Thursday participating in the club's winter training day in support of the Jays Care Foundation. Participants fundraised a minimum of $500 -- with proceeds supporting the Blue Jays Baseball Academy Rookie League national program -- to receive on-field instruction from Alomar and fellow former Jays Jesse Barfield, Pat Tabler, Lloyd Moseby and Homer Bush.

Alomar said there's no question in his mind Morris deserves a Hall of Fame nod.

"He was a good teammate," Alomar said. "I always said if you wanted a guy pitching on the mound in the seventh game of the World Series, it should be Jack Morris.

"That's the guy I'd vote for."

There will be a Toronto flavour during this year's induction ceremony. Among those in this year's Hall of Fame class are manager Bobby Cox and slugger Frank Thomas, both former Blue Jays.

Cox managed in Toronto from 1982 to '85, then led the Atlanta Braves into the '92 World Series against his former club.

"Bobby Cox had a great career," Alomar said. "I never played for him, I played against Bobby.

"He was a great manager, he had a lot of players talk real highly of him. He had a great winning percentage and it's well deserved that he was voted into the Hall of Fame."

Cox, who guided Atlanta to the '95 World Series title, isn't the only big-name former manager heading into the Hall of Fame. Joining him will be Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, both multiple World Series champions who like Cox also won more than 2,000 career games over their stellar major-league careers.

"Unbelievable," Alomar said. "The only sad thing is I didn't get the chance to play for any of them.

"But I'm a big fan of theirs, I have a lot of respect for them. I'm honoured to be part of that day with them and I can't wait until that day comes when I can congratulate them personally."

Thomas was twice named the American League MVP over his 19-year career and was regarded as one of the game's top hitters. He spent the '07 season and 16 games of the '08 campaign with Toronto, and was a Blue Jay when he belted his 500th career homer June 28, 2007 versus Minnesota.

Roberto Alomar (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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