1984 World Series Game 4: For Trammell and Morris, a Leg on the Road to Greatness

Jack Morris pitching a baseball; black and white photo

While Alan Trammell powered through a mountain curve, Jack Morris slalomed rush-hour highway traffic.  For both men, Game 4 of the 1984 World Series was an eventful leg on their road to greatness.

Neither Hall of Famer had risen to full stature by October of ’84.  Morris would later etch his name in the Eternity book with his incredible 10-inning shutout performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series for the Twins.  He’d eventually become the winningest pitcher of the 80’s.

For now, he was one of the Tigers’ few bona fide stars, a two-time All-Star, a 20-game winner, an author of a no-hitter early in the season. 

Tram had yet to craft his standout MVP-candidate season of ’87, in which he hit .343, drove in 105 runs and banged 28 home runs for a pennant-winning team.  He’d yet to become, along with Whitaker, a patron of a team that would take on a revolving cast of players, a perennial team leader who’d put up the stats that would finally get him into the Hall.

To be sure, though, both men were in high gear heading into the Saturday afternoon game.  Trammell had collected 4 hits and 3 RBI against KC in the playoffs; in the World Series, he’d driven in Lou in Games 1 and 3, had scored twice, and was hitting .435 on the series.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the soreness of Alan Trammell’s shoulder. Now there will be a lot of talk about his very well bat.”–Ernie Harwell, Oct. 13, 1984.

Morris had battled to a brilliant victory in Game 1, striking out 9 Padres after falling behind early, keeping the opponent at bay as his team had scored just 3 runs.

On a bright Saturday, with their team up 2-1 on the series, both 1976 draftees took ownership of a World Series Game.

Game 4 started a lot like the others had.  After Morris quickly dispensed of the Padres, Detroit’s offense mounted a surgical strike in its first at bat. Against fastball-slider-changeup specialist Eric Show, the John Bircher known as a sensitive intellectual, Whitaker hit a chopper near second, which Wiggins fielded off-balance and threw wide to Garvey to put Whitaker on with an error.

Game 4 wasn’t one of dramatics and strikeouts for Morris. He ground out a win.

Then came Trammell.  He took a 2-0 pitch up around the English D and rapped it into the fifth or sixth row near the line in left field.  The Tigers had scored in the first inning for the third time in four games, and led 2-0. 

In the bottom of the second, Terry Kennedy made a rare show of muscle for San Diego, propelling a Morris pitch into the first row of the upper deck in right.  The score was 2-1, a minor rendering of Tuesday’s game in San Diego in which Detroit made a lot of noise in the first, while scoring just 1, and then San Diego promptly came back.  In this case, the Padres could only cut the lead in half before Morris settled down as he had in Game 1.

In the bottom of the third, with one out, Lou Whitaker sliced one on a hop to Tony Gwynn, who slipped and let the ball get away, Lou making it to second.

And you know what happened next.

This time it was a breaking ball that didn’t break, and Tram pummeled it into the face of the upper deck.  “Goood-bye,” intoned Vin Scully.[1]  Trammell had done something serious.  Not only had he given his team a 4-1 lead, but by hitting two homers in a World Series game, he’d joined a club of about a couple dozen big leaguers who’d done so, including Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Johnny Bench.  And something incredible happened the next time he came to the plate: something small, inconsequential to the game’s bottom line, but very nice for the project of nostalgia.  The crowd positively erupted, raining down such adulation on Trammell that he had to step out of the batter’s box to get his bearings.

Trammell’s 2 homers, Ernie Harwell call

In a series in which the only Tigers’ home game thus far had involved early scoring and a lot of walks, this was perhaps the first real “world series” moment, with an energy at atmosphere befitting champions, occasioned by the great work of an individual.

Well, the game began to take on the peculiar contours of a 1984 World Series game.  It would be the third of four games in which the Tigers’ scoring would close at the end of the 3rd inning, with Herndon’s fifth-inning homer in Game 1 providing the sole exception.

The turnaround came with the departure of Eric Show a couple of hitters after Trammell’s second home run.  As had happened three times, the game spun on a dime when San Diego’s relief crew went to work. This time it was Dave Dravecky.  The lefty had a gentle motion with a straight-up pull of the right leg and a sneaky release with a two-thirds style.  He would pitch three innings of shutout ball before handing it over to Lefferts.

One pauses before criticizing a winning team, but the Tigers of Game 4 remained plagued by the lack of ability to capitalize on opportunities that had dogged them in every game so far.  What made matters worse was that against Dravecky, they made a couple of unforced errors.  First, in the fourth, Lemon got to second base with what was for him a rare steal.  Whether he went on his own or was sent, he then tried to swipe third, a strange move with a 3-run lead.  Most of the way there, realizing Kennedy’s throw was beating him by a mile, he bizarrely skidded to a near stop, as though he were about to get into a rundown, then bumbled into third standing up.  His idiosyncratic step actually made it a very close play, but it played like a big gaffe.

Lemon caught stealing third…with a three-run lead.
“He shouldn’t be out there on an Easter Egg hunt.”–Joe Garagiola

Then, in the fifth, Whitaker doubled to set the stage for more heroics for Trammell.  The shortstop did his part, banging one hard in front of Carmelo Martinez for a base hit.  But Alex Grammas very cautiously held Whitaker at third.  The call would really cost Detroit two hitters later: Parrish broke his bat and sent a looper toward Nettles that the third baseman took on a hop.  Pausing a few feet down the line to be sure it wouldn’t be caught in the air, Whitaker somehow decided to try to score, looking over his shoulder halfway home, and getting thrown out by a mile.

Those, by the way, were the kind of mistakes that would normally drive Jack Morris crazy when he was on the mound.  And Vin Scully had already noted that Morris looked “a little unhappy” in the fourth after missing with a couple against Bevacqua.  Garagiola then outlined the well-worn book on Morris and his moodiness on the mound, reflecting that when he’d been a catcher, he didn’t mind pitchers getting upset.

“He shouldn’t be out there on an Easter egg hunt,” the color man said, getting riled up, “he’s trying to win a ball game.  He makes a bad pitch, he should get upset.”[2]  Hear, hear.

Well, Morris did have a different aspect for much of the game than he’d had in San Diego.  In game one, particularly in the late innings, he was visibly revved up, jaw clenched, eyes flashing.  He worked fast.  In game four, he moved like it was a hot August afternoon, and did look demonstrably sad.  It was hard work, what he was doing, and he did it well.

Morris got 13 Padres in a row–here are 3 in the 6th.

From the end of the third through the seventh, Morris got thirteen Padres in a row, not a single walk.  He capped the stretch by making Bevacqua appear foolish on a strikeout looking.

Meanwhile, another trend was playing out. While role players like Grubb, Jones, and Bergman had played very big roles for the Tigers during the season, the second half of the lineup was generally silent during the series.  Grubb, Bergman, Jones, and Brookens would all end the series without an RBI, while Garbey would go hitless for five games.  That’s part of the reason for the late inning droughts on the series, which included Game 4.

Morris did his best snarling in the late innings. Here he is in the 7th and 8th.

In the 9th, Garvey led off with a double, got to third on a groundout, and scored on a Morris wild pitch to make it 4-2.  While that meant the tying run was on the on-deck circle, Morris took just one more pitch to get Terry Kennedy on a liner to right.

Morris closes it out to become the 1st pitcher to throw 2 complete games in a World Series since 1977.

The Tigers now had a commanding 3-1 lead for the series.  While the Padres had tamed the non-Trammell bats, and while the offense had sagged when Dravecky had entered the game, Trammell and Morris brought things into sharp focus for fans and had created a festive event with their dominance.  People believe in people, and the two long-time Detroit heroes had given them more than enough reason.  They’d carried the team to the brink of a world’s championship.  Three down.  One to go.

[1] Broadcast. 1984 World Series Game 4. Padres at Tigers. October 13, 1984. NBC.

[2] Ibid.

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