"He was the last of a breed," Anderson says. "Somebody who actually comes to the park with anger to beat you. I never went near him when it was his day to pitch."
Says Tapani, "We used to joke that Jack had low blood sugar. It was as if he hadn't eaten in a while and his chemistry would change. If he lost a game, it was the end of the world. But if he was happy, he'd be buying drinks, telling stories and asking, 'What can I do for you?' What you saw was what you got with Jack. He hid nothing. Every once in a while with the media he'd say something that would make you cringe, make you say, 'Did he really say that?' "
Once, in Detroit, a female reporter asked him a question in the Tigers' clubhouse. "I don't talk to women when I'm naked," Morris snapped, "unless they're on top of me or I'm on top of them."
Morris channeled so much rage on the mound that it lingered with him in the clubhouse, like an engine that stays hot after it's been turned off. "Show me a good loser," Morris would say, "and I'll show you a loser."
Anger was a beast inside him, and baseball provoked the beast in 1986. Morris was a free agent that winter, a 21-game winner, 31 years old and one of the best pitchers in the game. And nobody wanted him. The owners conspired not to sign other teams' free agents. Collusion. Morris wanted to sign with Minnesota, to come home to St. Paul, but learned quickly that that would not happen.
"[Twins owner] Carl Pohlad was ready to sign me," says Morris, "and then [G.M.] Andy [MacPhail] came in and said no."
Morris and his agent, Dick Moss, flew to Tampa to meet with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Morris loved Steinbrenner's cocksure attitude and was impressed when Steinbrenner asked him about some Yankees, including a young first baseman named Dan Pasqua.
"This guy has ungodly power," Morris said. "It's just a matter of him getting it together."
"I'm not sure," Steinbrenner said. "I don't think he's got the heart you do. You're my kind of guy. You're just the kind of guy I need."
Moss seized the opportunity and threw out numbers for a three-year deal. Suddenly Steinbrenner turned cool, saying that he needed to sign his own free agents, but Moss and Morris knew what was happening. "George," Moss said, "you wouldn't be the kind of person to have anybody tell you what to do, would you?"