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The Ultimate Gamer
Tom Verducci
March 31, 2003
In perhaps the best World Series game ever played, the Twins' Jack Morris gave us one final glimpse of a dying breed a pitcher who was determined to finish whatever he started
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March 31, 2003

The Ultimate Gamer

In perhaps the best World Series game ever played, the Twins' Jack Morris gave us one final glimpse of a dying breed a pitcher who was determined to finish whatever he started

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"What do you think?" Kelly said.

"I can get him," Morris said.

Kelly said, "Let's walk him."

Morris, head bowed, replied, "All right."

Justice was intentionally walked. Now the bases were loaded. The tension was too much for Dona. She left Arvid and her grandsons in their press-level box to stand alone in an empty concourse, unable to see the field.

"It's unbelievable," Morris says, laughing at the tension he sees on the TV as he watches a tape of the game, "because I realize the importance of [the moment], but I'm still believing that I can get out of this. They are not going to score."

Harper had another thought, a horrible one. He suddenly thought of the error Bill Buckner made in the 1986 World Series, an error so huge it blotted the memory of his prolific hitting career. Harper saw himself throwing the baseball into right-field, the winning runs scampering home. It was a horrible thought at a horrible time.

Four pitches later Morris hung a forkball to Sid Bream. It was a lousy pitch, the kind of awful pitch that sometimes causes a hitter to jump at it. Bream topped the ball to first baseman Kent Hrbek, who fired a strike to Harper to force Smith at home. Harper took a step, cocked his arm and made a perfect return throw to Hrbek. Double play. Inning over.

"I sat on the bench," Harper says, "and thought, I don't know how much longer I can take this. I was exhausted. My head hurt."

The bottom of the inning was just as wild. Smoltz, pitching with one out and a runner at first, yielded a hit-and-run single to Knoblauch that barely cleared the glove of Bream at first base. Braves manager Bobby Cox walked to the mound to remove a disgusted Smoltz.

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