Minnesota was his eventual suitor, and there did seem to be some romance involved. Morris, who grew up in St. Paul, made much of "coming home" when he signed with the Twins, but it is now clear that this move, from both points of view, was not as sentimental as the press played it. The Twins wanted to hedge their bets by loading his new contract with incentive clauses that would reward his famous durability. But Morris insisted on a three-year contract that gave him the option to declare himself a free agent after each year. Now, if only he could have another 1986 season....
He had a 1987 season, more or less, with an 18-12 record plus a spectacular postseason. The Twins wanted him back under the same terms, but Morris had regained the whip hand in negotiations. And Toronto's deal, nearly $11 million for two years, sounded like a nice payback for all those underpaid seasons in Detroit.
Morris understood that he would henceforth be viewed as a mercenary. Hadn't he once said, "I play for all the money I can make. If I played for the love of the game, I'd go back to the minors and play third base"? Yet he begs you to consider that "things do change in life. I meant what I said about coming to Minnesota. But I want to meet the man who, placed in my special circumstances last year, would have done differently."
One of those circumstances was the opportunity to make $5 million rather than $3 million. At any rate, by the time negotiations were under way with the Twins, Minnesota seemed less like a home for Morris. Another consideration was his divorce last year from his wife of 14 years, Carolyn. "I suppose it was a typical divorce, and I guess about one in two people go through the same thing," he says. "But it was all new, and hurting, to me." Yet a year removed from the marital mess, Morris acknowledges a wonderful parting gift from Carolyn. It was delivered during that prelitigation give-and-take when the spouses expose their wounds to each other. "She said I'd spent my entire life chasing my own tail, chasing my dreams, that I forgot how to live for today," Morris says. "That hit me right between the eyes. She was right, of course."
The lesson has allowed him to relax, to enjoy a day in Baltimore, to enjoy even his struggles as a pitcher. That night last week, his second stab at his 20th win, Baltimore roughed him up early, and the milestone was put off. (He would get number 20 four days later, with six shutout innings against the Yankees.) There was a bases-loaded jam, a botched play and one bad pitch—"just one," he pointed out later. It was not a postseason performance, but then the Jays were six games ahead of the Orioles at the start, and where could the adrenaline be?
Yet through it all Morris remained composed, even finishing the game. Got beat up but didn't quit. And maybe that was a smile that flickered beneath his mustache when catcher Pat Borders visited him on the mound in the three-run third. Maybe old Black Jack was remembering when he and his brother played catch in St. Paul, dreaming about the day they would pitch big league baseball. Maybe, down 3-0, he still felt lucky. After all, he's only three years into the '90s, the decade he's sure to get right.