"I never had as much will to win a game as I did on that day," says Morris. "I was in trouble many times during that game but didn't realize it because I never once had a negative thought."
Morris was right to be so confident. He pitched the game of his life, the game of his generation, the game neither his father nor his manager could have imagined. Game 7 became his game.
As Lonnie Smith, the Braves' leadoff batter, stepped in to hit against Morris, he turned to have a word with catcher Brian Harper. They had played together briefly with the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals and only four nights earlier had met at home plate in a bone-rattling collision.
"Lonnie looked at me, and I looked at him," Harper says, "and you could tell we were both thinking the same thing: Wow, this is going to be something! These six games have been tremendous. And now one more...."
"Hey, have a good game," Smith said.
"Good luck," Harper said. "God bless you."
"We knew it was going to be a war," Harper says. "It was like two boxers tapping gloves before the fight."
At 7:38 Central time—with 55,118 fans in the Metrodome screaming like a jet engine, the noise bouncing off the white Teflon roof and concrete walls—Morris threw his first pitch, an inside fastball to Smith. Home plate umpire Don Denkinger called it a ball. Morris glared at him. The third pitch, also a ball, brought the same silent, icy protest from Morris.
"I knew Jack," Denkinger says, "and I never found too much that he did like. I had the utmost respect for him as a competitor. He was a guy who didn't like to lose. Tim Tschida, another umpire, grew up in St. Paul. Jack played with Tim's brothers, and he told me how Jack brought the ball to play. And if he didn't like how the game was going, he'd go home and take the ball with him. And that would be the end of the game."
Morris wore a mustache in the bushy, droopy style of the stock bad guy in an old Western. His face seemed petrified in a scowl. The press, which he might have hated even more than hitters, called him Black Jack and approached him as one would a live grenade. Sparky Anderson, his manager for 12 seasons in Detroit, called him Cactus Jack.