Morris was there, but Smoltz didn't have the nerve to say hello. Then one day somebody said something funny in the clubhouse, and Smoltz laughed. Morris gave Smoltz one of his icy glares.
"Go ahead and laugh, kid," Morris said. "You're trying to take our jobs." Smoltz stopped laughing.
Morris has no memory of Smoltz's being with the team, had no knowledge of him two years later when the Tigers traded Smoltz to Atlanta to get Doyle Alexander, had no idea that his Game 7 opponent grew up idolizing him.
In that game Smoltz, then 24, matched Morris zero for zero, clutch pitch for clutch pitch. After seven innings neither team had scored, the first time that had happened in a final game of a World Series. The tension was excruciating. The noise was so loud that Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek watched the game with his foot on the bullpen telephone: He had to feel for the vibration if it rang, because he couldn't count on hearing it.
"There was no discussion on the bench of what was going on," Tapani says, "because you had to yell in the ear of the guy next to you if you wanted to be heard. And that gets old real quick. So we just watched."
Smoltz got three ground ball outs to end the seventh then, exhausted, trudged up the four flights of stairs from the dugout to the clubhouse for some rest. He flopped into a chair in front of a television and cried out, "Please, please can we score?" They would not. Morris, with some help from Lonnie Smith, would not allow it.
Smith checked his swing on the second pitch of the eighth inning, sending the ball softly into rightfield for a single. Morris missed with his first pitch to Terry Pendleton, and the bullpen phone vibrated. Pitching coach Dick Such wanted Steve Bedrosian and Mark Guthrie to warm up.
With the count 1 and 2 on what was Morris's 100th pitch, Pendleton crushed a fastball toward the gap in left centerfield. The speedy Smith seemed certain to score. Except there was a problem—Smith had broken toward second on a delayed steal but committed a fundamental mistake by not peeking toward home to pick up the ball when it was hit. Now he was looking to his left, then to his right. Where was it?
The Metrodome is as artificial a ballpark as you will find. The ceiling is a dull white, perfect camouflage for baseballs. Outfielders—who otherwise can check base runners, teammates or the proximity of walls while tracking fly balls—are warned never to take their eyes off the baseball once it is in the air in the Metrodome. Smith knew Pendleton's hit was in play. He just had no clue where.
As Smith took off for second, Braves jumped off their seats in the dugout. "I remember yelling, 'Go! Go! Go!' " says pitcher Mark Grant. "When the ball was hit we thought, There it is. There's the run that's going to win it."