Tigers' Jack Morris acknowledges 'lot of mistakes' during his playing days

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Jack Morris.

Detroit — Jack Morris has mellowed as his hair has grayed.

He's no longer the fire-breathing, mean, son of a gun who'd slam the ball into Sparky Anderson's frail right hand when the late, great Tigers manager (albeit, rarely) dared to remove his ace from a ballgame.

During his playing days, Morris would mix it up with just about anybody, whether you were on his team, on the other team, were an umpire, were a fan asking for an autograph, or were a member of the media asking for a quote. His nastiness toward female reporters was particularly grotesque, as has been reported over the years.

And while he's embraced this summer "lovefest," as he calls it — from his induction last month into the Baseball Hall of Fame, to Sunday's retirement of his No. 47 by the Tigers, to the celebration coming up later this week in Minnesota — Morris also has acknowledged his past transgressions.

"I made a lot of mistakes when I was young. It is documented. I can't hide from it. I have to live with it and accept a lot of the things. I've said I'm not proud of it," Morris said following the ceremony at Comerica Park.

More: Morris gushes about Detroit during number-retirement ceremony

"I think the heart and soul of Tigers fans understand that Jack Morris cared and he was out there trying to do his best, and that's what they are. They're that kind of people.

"I think they can relate to me because of that."

Lance Parrish, Morris' longtime catcher in Detroit, said he considers Morris "a brother" — and said he's seen significant change from Morris over the years, especially as he's become a grandfather to five.

"When you get a little bit older and you have grandkids and start to reflect on your life, maybe you see some videos where, 'Maybe I shouldn't have said that,'" Parrish said. "You look back where all of us were young athletes, and full of testosterone, and just out of our minds sometimes. ... You have regrets that you might've treated people a certain way.

"The thing that makes me proud of Jack is that he is willing to admit that and has made a conscious effort to change.

"He would go nuts every so often, but deep down, I knew he was a really good guy."

More: 'It was an honor': Tigers' Boyd twirls gem on Morris' day

Not in stock

There were three No. 47 jerseys on the stage Sunday.

But there were about 10,000 No. 47 jerseys that were missing.

Shortly before the gates opened Sunday, the Tigers announced that a "shipping" issue prevented them from distributing the 10,000 replica road Morris jerseys that were to be passed out to the first 10,000 fans walking into the ballpark.

"Due to issues with the shipping of today’s scheduled promotional giveaway, we are unable to distribute the Jack Morris 1984 replica road jersey at today’s game as planned," the Tigers said in a statement issued around 10:30 a.m. Sunday. "The first 10,000 fans through the gates at today’s game will be given a voucher to redeem the giveaway item. 

"Additional details on redeeming the jersey can be found on Tigers social media channels, and Tigers.com. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience."

Road jerseys always are among the most popular Tigers giveaway, and fans were lined up in the thousands before the gates opened Sunday. Sunday's attendance was 30,105.

On Sunday, Aug. 26, the Tigers will give away another 10,000 replica road jerseys, of Alan Trammell's No. 3. Trammell's number will be retired before that day's game against the Chicago White Sox.

Around the horn

It's been quite the summer for Morris.

"I call it a lovefest," he said with a smile. "My wife teases me all the time, 'You tired of Jack Morris yet?' And the answer is yeah, but it's been so much fun."

... Morris was the seventh Tigers player to have his number retired. Trammell will be No. 8. And Morris has a suggestion for No. 9. "I feel strongly that Lou (Whitaker) will be there someday."

Whitaker received a huge ovation and a loud, drawn-out "Loouuuuuu" upon his introduction Sunday. He declined to speak with reporters.

... The Tigers wore special Morris patches on their jerseys Sunday, featuring his No. 47. A Morris emblem also replaced the on-deck circles at Comerica Park.

Special on-deck circle for Jack Morris' number retirement ceremony on Sunday at Comerica Park

... Other former Tigers personalities in attendance Sunday including longtime trainer Pio DiSalvo, and former Tigers Scott Lusader and Larry Pashnick, who pitched for Michigan State and for the Tigers from 1982-83.

... Unlike the other Tigers players to have their numbers retired, the Tigers didn't unveil a Morris statue Sunday. The official word from the team is that it is still TBD regarding statues for Morris and Trammell.

... Morris gave a special shout out to a player "I wish was here today," the late Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, whose injury in April 1978 led to Morris making his first start of that season.

... Here are the Tigers who have worn No. 47: Morris (1977-90), Terry Humphrey (1975), Phil Meeler (1972), Gary Taylor (1969), Don McMahon (1968-69), Joe Sparma (1964), Bobo Osborne (1958) and Duke Maas (1955-56).