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Why Matt Morris Gets My Cardinals HOF Vote

Busch Stadium Photo Credit: legacy1995/Shutterstock

The St. Louis Cardinals recently announced the nominees for their class of 2022 Cardinals Hall of Fame. The list includes the likes of Steve Carlton, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, George Hendrick & Matt Holliday.

You definitely can’t go wrong with any of these candidates, as they all played pivotal roles for the teams in which they played. Depending on the era that you grew up in, different players & their career may mean more to you.

This year’s ballot is a bit different as voters can only select one player to vote for rather than the two that we’ve been able to elect in the past. I’m sure some of that is the team not wanting to overcrowd their Hall of Fame, as many fans seem to think it “waters it down” to put so many in.

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To be eligible for the Cardinals Hall of Fame nominees must have played for the Cardinals for at least three season and be retired as a player from Major League Baseball for at least three years.

The eligible pool of players is divided into two categories, including "modern players" and "veteran players." If a player retired more than 40 years prior to the induction year, he is classified as a veteran player.

Modern players are selected for induction by a six-week fan vote. Veteran players are selected for induction by the Red Ribbon Panel. From time to time, the Cardinals organization may opt to induct an individual who was an important figure in Cardinals history such as a coach, broadcaster or member of the front office.

The Red Ribbon panel currently consist of 14 members Tom Ackerman (KMOX), Frank Cusumano (KSDK), Derrick Goold (BBWAA/St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Whitey Herzog, Benjamin Hochman (BBWAA/St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Rick Hummel (BBWAA/St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Randy Karraker (101 ESPN), Martin Kilcoyne (KTVI), Tony La Russa, Bernie Miklasz (KFNS), Joe Ostermeier (BBWAA), Rob Rains (BBWAA/STLSportspage), Joe Torre and Brian Walton (The Cardinal Nation).

George Hendrick/Matt Holliday Photo Credit:

When this year’s nominees were announced, I was excited to see both George Hendrick & Matt Holliday make their first appearances on the ballot. I immediately knew that with Matt Holliday being one of my all-time favorite Cardinals, that he was sure to get my vote.

He was one of the classiest Cardinal players on & off the field, and an even better person. But when I went to cast my vote, I stopped for a moment. I read the player bios and kept going back to Matt Morris.

Seeing that he has been on the ballot for 7 seasons, I wanted to reconsider putting that check mark next to Holliday. I started remembering watching Matt Morris pitch when I was younger, and at the time, I wasn’t looking at him as if I was watching a Hall of Fame pitcher. What I do recall is that before seeing guys like Chris Carpenter & Adam Wainwright take the mound and have that “bulldog mentality”, that Morris was that guy for the Cardinals in that era.

Matt Morris Photo Credit: Times Herald-Record

His bio reads: Matt Morris (RHP)

Years on Ballot: 7

Years: 1997 - 2005

101-62, 3.61 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 18 CG, 8 SHO, 1377.1 IP (206 Games Started)

Matt Morris made his Major League debut less than two years after being selected 12th overall in the 1995 amateur draft. In his 1997 rookie season, Morris made 33 starts and finished with a 12-9 record and a 3.19 ERA, tying him for second in Rookie of the Year balloting. A National League All-Star in 2001 and 2002, Morris finished third in Cy Young voting in 2001 after winning a Major League-best 22 games (the highest single-season win total for a Cardinals starting pitcher since 1970).

In his eight seasons with the club, Morris recorded six seasons with at least 11 wins (one of only 12 Cardinals pitchers to do so), won four division titles and started 11 postseason games (third-most in franchise history).

Matt’s 986 strikeouts ranks sixth on the club’s all-time list and his .620 winning percentage is seventh-best.

Matt Morris Photo Credit:

After reading that a few times, and having the flashbacks of watching him pitch those 8 seasons, I knew I wanted to do my part in helping him get elected into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

The beauty of the voting process, is that we all have different opinions & reasonings for why we’d vote a player in. Some fans will only look at a player’s stats, some fans put a heavy emphasis on the amount of years a player played for the Cardinals, and some fans throw all of that out the window and just vote on who their favorite player to watch was.

In this instance, I did a little of all of the above. Matt Morris played 8 seasons with the Cardinals, as did Matt Holliday. Carlton & Hendrick each played 7 seasons, and Renteria 6. I think longevity of time representing the organization does mean something.

Not to take away what each of those players did career-wise while wearing the Birds on a Bat, because honestly I think a case could be made for each one of them. I also think that eventually, every player nominated on this ballot gets an induction and rightfully so.

When I think of Matt Morris, I think of more than just his stats, which make a strong enough case on their own.

Photo Credit: St. Louis Cardinals Game Day Magazine (1997)

In 1997 (Morris’ age 22 rookie season), he finished the season with a 12-9 record (33 starts), a 3.19 ERA, 149 strikeouts in 217 innings pitched. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Scott Rolen.

He misses the entire 1999 season due to having Tommy John surgery and only pitched 53 relief innings for the Cardinals in 2000.

The following season, Morris was the ace for St. Louis. He had Daryl Kile, Dustin Hermanson, Andy Benes, Bud Smith & Woody Williams behind him in the rotation, and Steve Kline & Dave Veres locking down games from the bullpen. That year, Morris earned his first All-Star nod and finished the season 22-8 with a 3.16 ERA, 185 strikeouts in 216 innings pitched.

His third place finish for NL Cy Young came behind Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson (who won the award) and fellow Diamondback Curt Schilling.

Photo Credit: Sporting News Magazine (2002)

In 2002, Morris earned his second All-Star appearance going 17-9 with a 3.42 ERA, with 171 strikeouts in 210.1 innings. He started 32 games for St. Louis that season.

A few seasons later in 2004, Morris was part of the rotation that led the Cardinals to the World Series, however that World Series in almost a forgotten one by Cardinals fans as they watched the Boston Red Sox sweep their club in four games. Matt went 15-10 with a 4.72 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 202 innings pitched.

Morris had surgery that off-season, and when he returned in what would be his final year in St. Louis, started the season 8-0 with a 3.16 ERA and at the time of the All-Star break was 10-2 with a 3.10 ERA yet was snubbed from an All-Star selection. He fell off the remainder of the year going 4-7 with a 5.55 ERA after the break and finished the season 14-10 with a 4.11 ERA, 117 strikeouts in 192.2 innings.

Matt Morris Photo Credit: Photo by cdm

He may not have stood out as the top name amongst all of his St. Louis teammates over the years, but his contributions shouldn’t be forgotten, and in my opinion are worthy enough for him to be honored.

Morris’ teammate include several members who have already been inducted to the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Willie McGee, Ray Lankford, Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen, Scott Rolen have already earned their red jackets.

He was also a teammate of fellow nominee Edgar Renteria who I think gets elected one day, and was also a teammate of three future locks for the Cardinals HOF in Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina & Adam Wainwright.

What say you on the Cardinals career of Matt Morris? Do you think he’s earned his red jacket? Or do you give your vote to one of the other deserving nominees? Let us know in the comments, and as always thanks for reading & Go Cards!

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