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Blue Jays Birthdays: Jack Morris, Mitch Webster

Sports Contributor Archive 2018

Jack Morris turns 68 today.

Morris was a very good pitcher back in the 1980s with the Tigers. In my mind, he’s not a Hall of Famer, but a guy that won many games (helped by great Tiger offense) and pitched many innings. But the Veterans Committee disagreed (if you made a list of borderline players in the Hall, most of them would have been put in the Hall by the Veterans Committee or whatever they call the Veterans Committee these days). In 1983 he threw 293.2 innings, with 20 complete games.

The Jays signed him before the 1992 season. Morris had just helped the Minnesota Twins to a World Series win over the Atlanta Braves. He won two games in that series, including game 7, one of the most incredible pitching performances in the history of the World Series. He pitched a 10-inning shutout, keeping the Braves off the scoreboard long enough for the Twins to get the game’s only run in the bottom of the 10th.

The Jays signed him, hoping he could get them a World Series win. He had the reputation of being a winner. And in 1992, he was a winner, going 21-6, with a 4.04 ERA in 34 starts, again helped out by a great offense. He was our first 20-game winner. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t get enough runs for him to be a winner in the playoffs. In the ALCS against Oakland, he was 0-1 with a 6.57 ERA. In the World Series, against the Braves, he was 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA.

Jack had a poor 1993 season, going 7-12 (even great hitting can only do so much) with a 6.19 ERA and didn’t pitch in the playoffs that year. But he picked up his 4th World Series ring.

Morris won a lot of games in his career, 254. He was a good pitcher who helped out by pitching for teams that scored a lot. Jack also threw a lot of innings. However, he gave up a ton of home runs (389 in his career, 16th on the all-time list) and many, many walks (1390, 19th all-time)

He was never a fan favourite in Toronto, we disliked the Tigers back then, and he had been their best pitcher and never had the warmest personality. So since he didn’t pitch all that well for us, we didn’t grow to like him.

Jack worked in the TV booth for Sportsnet for a season. Then he left to do the same job for the Twins and the Tigers. Jack didn’t grow on me doing the job. Instead, he’s leaned into the ‘old white guy’ role in the booth. He isn’t on the Tigers’ broadcast team this year.

Happy Birthday, Jack. I hope it is a good one.

Mitch Webster turns 64 today.

Mitch was a 23rd-round draft choice for the Dodgers in the 1977 draft. He came to the Jays in a minor league draft before the 1980 season, worked his way up the Jays’ minor league system, and made his major league debut in 1983. He played 41 games for the Jays from 1983 to when they traded him to the Expos in June 1985.

The unfortunate thing for Webster is that the Jays had Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby and George Bell, so there wasn’t room for Webster.

He played four seasons for the Expos, hitting .279/.354/.421 with 36 home and 96 steals. From there, he played for the Cubs, Cleveland, Pirates, and Dodgers. He played 13 seasons, 1265 games, hitting .263/.330/.401 with 70 home runs and 160 steals.

I liked him. He is on that list of guys I was very fond of, maybe overly fond of. Mitch was one of those guys with mid-range power, some speed, could take a walk, and played great defense. He had a couple of excellent seasons with the Expos, putting up a 4.0 bWAR in 1986 and a 3.3 in 1987. Beyond those two years, he was a fourth-outfielder type. But then, you have a good season for my team, and I’m your fan forever.

Happy Birthday, Mitch. I hope it is a good one.