Jack Morris awoke on the morning of Oct. 27, 1991, without a doubt in his mind. There was only one thing in his life that mattered that day, and he knew how it would turn out. The Minnesota Twins pitcher could not know that an offensive revolution was coming, fueled by the trendsetting coziness of Camden Yards, which would open in six months; the addition of two expansion teams a year after that; and the relentless quest for muscle enhancement by any means necessary. He could not know that his way of pitching, in which a real ace had no need for a bullpen, was doomed.
No, all that mattered that day was the outcome of the seventh game of the most closely contested World Series ever. The Twins and the Atlanta Braves had played so many cliffhangers so deep into the night that one sleep disorder expert, in a Page One story in The Atlanta Constitution, warned of "a rise in car wrecks and work accidents" due to frazzled fans.
As he prepared breakfast for himself, his parents and his two boys, Morris knew exactly how the game would end. What bothered him was that his father, Arvid, and mother, Dona, who flew in from Michigan to stay with him during the Series, were not so certain. His father was too quiet. His eyes betrayed his anxiety.
Didn't he know"? Arvid was a rock, a left-brain master, a former troubleshooter for 3M labs in St. Paul. He had driven his sons, Tom and Jack, hard, throwing to them when they were two or three years old, much to Dona's consternation. "People used to say, My gosh, how many hours do you spend with the boys?" Arvid says. "They showed a lot of ability, and we were going to work that and see if something might develop." When the boys got a little older, dinner became conditional on how well they played: If they won a Little League game, Arvid bought them steak. If they lost, they got hamburger. Every drive home from the ball field included a lecture on how they could improve.
By the time the boys were in high school, Tom and Jack decided to confront Arvid. "Enough is enough," Tom said to his father. "You need to back off." Arvid eased up after that.
When Jack first earned big money in the game, in 1983, he asked his father, "How would you like to retire?" Arvid was 53. Jack bought his parents a lakeside home and a car.
Now, eight years later, with Game 7 upon them, Arvid was nervous, but Jack smiled and laughed. "Don't worry, Dad," he said. "We're going to win the World Series."
"I was amazed," Arvid says. "He had never done anything like that before. It had always been a 'Let the chips fall...' type thing with him."
Arvid had not seen his son in the clubhouse the night before, after Twins centerfielder Kirby Puckett hit an 11th-inning home run—yet another traffic-alert game—to make Game 7 necessary. "He had this huge smile on his face," Minnesota pitcher Kevin Tapani says of Morris, "as if he couldn't wait for the next game to start, couldn't wait to pitch that game."
Nor did Arvid see his son plop into a chair in the press interview room that night, grab a microphone and, with a heavyweight's bravado, bellow, "In the immortal words of the late, great Marvin Gaye, Let's get it on!" Morris knew.