VIDEO: 25th anniversary of Twins' 1991 World Series Game 7 victory

Today - Oct. 27, 2016 - is the 25th anniversary of the Minnesota Twins winning Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against the Atlanta Braves. Twenty-five years since Gene Larkin hit a 10th-inning single to score Dan Gladden for a 1-0 Twins victory a...

(Image from YouTube video)

Today - Oct. 27, 2016 - is the 25th anniversary of the Minnesota Twins winning Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Twenty-five years since Gene Larkin hit a 10th-inning single to score Dan Gladden for a 1-0 Twins victory at the Metrodome. Since Minnesota's Jack Morris pitched all 10 innings to earn World Series MVP honors.

Thanks to YouTube, you can watch two versions of the game-winning hit above - one of the TV call by Jack Buck; one of the radio call by Vin Scully.

And if you'd like to read much more about that iconic Minnesota sports moment, here's an August 2011 Pioneer Press article recounting all the details of that Game 7:

Jack Morris and Tom Kelly relive Game 7 of the 1991 World Series


Kelsie Smith, St. Paul Pioneer Press / TNS

A camera pans the Metrodome.

There's the plexiglass and Bob Casey's voice, the Hey Song and the dingy white roof. There's a spry-looking Bobby Cox, a 25-year-old David Justice. There's Dan Gladden's mullet and Chuck Knoblauch's rookie grin. And there's Tom Kelly, thin and fit and youthful at 41 years old, being introduced at home plate.

"Hey, no glasses," Kelly, now 60, says when he sees his younger self run onto the field. "Where are the glasses?"

Jack Morris and Kelly needed 19 years, nine months and four days to get here, to a boardroom in Target Field, where they are watching Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Morris estimates he's watched this game 10 times, Kelly three, but before this July day in 2011, two weeks before the Twins were gathering members of the '91 team for a 20th anniversary reunion at Target Field, Kelly and Morris never had watched it together.


The morning of Oct. 27, 1991, Morris sat with his parents and his two young sons eating breakfast when he felt the eyes of his father, Arvid.


"He's watching every bite I'm taking. Just watching, just staring at me," Morris says. "Finally, I looked at him and said, 'What?' He goes, 'How you doing?' My dad asks me, 'How you doing?' A very open-ended question. My dad would never ask me something like that. I said: 'Dad, I feel great. I got a great night of sleep. Don't worry. We're going to win.' He looked at me, and he got this smile

on his face, but I don't think he believed me. To this day, I don't think he got what I was trying to tell him. He was so nervous."

"Dads," Kelly adds, "are like that."

So are managers.

By the time Morris took the mound against the Atlanta Braves that night, he'd thrown 273 innings that season. He'd started Game 1 (seven innings, five hits, two runs, 100 pitches and the win) and Game 4 (six innings, six hits, one run, 94 pitches and a loss, though not his), and all of that made Kelly nervous.

"Especially when we got to the ninth inning," Kelly says, "I thought, 'How many innings is he supposed to pitch?' "

If it were up to Morris? All of them.

A little girl in a white dress appears. She is 7-year-old Jacqueline Jaquez, and with microphone in hand she sets the stage for the brilliance to come with a chills-inducing rendition of the national anthem.


Earlier this year, Morris watched Game 7 with Braves starter John Smoltz for an MLB Network special, and as Jaquez began to sing, Morris says, Smoltz told him, "I was warming up in the bullpen with (Atlanta pitching coach Leo) Mazzone, and I looked at him and said, 'If she can do that, then I can pitch this game.' "

Already, the 1991 World Series was one of the best ever played. Before Game 6, a 4-3 Twins comeback win, Kirby Puckett told his teammates, "You guys should jump on my back tonight. I'm going to carry us." He hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning.

"My father told me, and I think he was right, he said that each game is like you're reading a book," Kelly says. "You've got Chapter 1 or Game 1, and then 2, and it's getting better and better and better and better and better."


Braves leadoff hitter Lonnie Smith steps in and takes Morris' first pitch for a ball.

"That's a strike," Morris says as he notices his younger self glaring at home plate umpire Don Denkinger. "Already working the umpire, first pitch."

Kelly talks about his own sense of calm during Game 7. He had his best pitcher on the mound. He had the best lineup he could ask for up against Smoltz. His defense was as he wanted it, and his hope at that point, he says, was that he wouldn't have to make a decision that would affect the outcome of the game.

"You want the players to decide who wins. You don't want the manager to decide who wins," he says. "But it did come down to a few things."


And when Kelly says that, Morris raps his index finger on the table, asks that the game be paused. He wants to say something he's said many times over the years, but never directly to Kelly.

"He put his ass on the line by leaving me in there, and you don't realize it at the time," Morris says. "You start reflecting back about the reality of the situation, and even me, if I was managing, I'd say to myself, 'Man, I've got Rick Aguilera, who's done a pretty damn good job. What do you do here?' And he did something that 99 percent of the baseball world wouldn't do, and without him doing it, I wouldn't be sitting here today."


Justice singles to begin the inning. Morris hasn't picked off a runner all season, but he throws over to first more than once.

Holding runners, Morris recalls, was a skill he finally had learned that season, thanks to catcher Brian Harper. For most of his career, Morris had been blessed with catchers who stopped the running game. Harper, a converted outfielder, was different.

"Harp was the first guy to teach me the need for the slide step," Morris says. "I was horrible at holding runners on, but with Harp, I had to learn. He wasn't going to throw too many people out. I had to give him at least a chance."

Justice is on second after a groundout, and Morris fans Brian Hunter on a high fastball.

"You don't want to try to live up there," Morris says. "Because if he hits that, it's going all the way."



Up walks Mark Lemke, who ended up batting .417 in the '91 World Series, to start the inning. He works the count full, laying off a pitch Morris put right where he wanted it.

"Lemke was a good player," Kelly says, "but he was hitting way over his skis."

Next up was Rafael Belliard, and Morris, even now, knowing the outcome, is annoyed.

"These are the kind of guys that always bothered me. The Belliards and the Lemkes," he says. "The typical power hitter I always figured I had bullets for; but these guys, nothing was safe. They could hit from the top of their head to the bottom of their shoes because they're swinging. They're hacking."

Belliard reaches out for a pitch down and away, and slaps it into right field.

"Like that right there," Morris says. "Look at that pitch."

Kelly interjects, explaining his philosophy with those scrappy hitters: Pitch them up, and most likely they'll hit the ball in the air but not with enough power to clear the fence.


"You're probably right," Morris says. "Why didn't you tell me that?"

Belliard scoots safely to second when Morris' inside pitch to Smith skips off Harper's glove.

"He missed it," Kelly says of the passed ball. "Now if Harp only misses one or two a game, that ain't bad."

Smith walks, putting runners on first and second with one out before Terry Pendleton hits a fly to short left field, where Gladden catches it.

Morris points out the sliding pants Gladden is wearing under his uniform, and Kelly reveals they weren't so much for sliding.

"He's just trying to make his ass look bigger," the manager deadpans.


In the fourth, Morris unleashes a changeup -- a particularly slow one -- for a called strike two to Justice.

"That was sweet," Morris says, and Kelly counters with, "What doo-doo."

"That," Morris goes on to say, "is the greatest changeup ever."

"That," Kelly says, "was real doo-doo."

Justice strikes out swinging on a forkball.

Smoltz later told Morris that Braves hitters had predicted a difficult night if Minnesota's starter had his forkball working early. Morris did, and he said using that pitch effectively early allowed him to catch Braves hitters off guard with his fastball in later innings.

Sid Bream flies out, and Hunter takes his first pitch. Denkinger calls it a ball.

"That's terrible," Kelly says. "Get Denkinger on the phone here."


Through four innings, each starter had given up only three hits, and the sold-out Metrodome was so loud, Morris says, that if you couldn't read your teammates' lips or interpret their hand signals, you were out of luck.

On the mound, though, Morris found some sort of calm in the fury.

"It was so loud," he remembers, "it was almost peaceful."

Above the field, his mother could not find that same peace. She was, Morris says, a nervous wreck, and about the time her son took the mound to start the fifth inning, Dona Morris left her seat to use the restroom and never returned. She stood in the concourse for the remainder of the game, judging her son's outing by the fan reaction. To this day, Morris says, he doesn't believe his mom has mustered the courage to watch Game 7.

Lemke starts the fifth with a single, and, as he settles in at first base, Morris looks over at him, purses his lips and shakes his head.

"What are you going to do?" Morris asks. "I look at him like, 'You little (expletive).' "

Belliard sacrifices Lemke to second, and that brings up Smith, who takes a big swing and misses for strike one.

"Lonnie still can't hit that," Morris says.

Smith regroups and drops down a bunt. Third baseman Mike Pagliarulo charges and throws to first, pulling Kent Hrbek off the bag. Atlanta has men on first and third with one out.

About then, Morris says, he realized one run would almost certainly decide the game and, thus, the World Series.

"You start to think, 'Hey, just get me one, I'll figure something out,' " he says. " 'At least start there, and if I need 10, I'll tell you about it later.' "

That sends Kelly into a fit of laughter. It's a reference to a Morris start earlier in the season when the right-hander gave up nine runs in his first three innings against Detroit. Trailing 9-0, Morris returned to the dugout and hollered, in complete seriousness: "Boys, get me 10. I've never lost with 10."

Pendleton pops out to shortstop Greg Gagne. Then, with Ron Gant batting, Morris bounces a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Harper can't handle it, and the ball bounces back toward the pitcher. Morris scoops it up and sees Lemke cheating off third. He throws to Pagliarulo.

An errant throw could have scored Lemke.

"I don't know why I threw it," Morris says. "I should have been taken out of the game for throwing that ball right there."

"That," Kelly says, "is what I was thinking."

Third-base umpire Terry Tata rules Lemke safe, but Morris escapes the jam, freezing Gant for a called strike three. Morris responds with a big, across-body fist pump.

"This is where I get a little fired up. Big old fist pump," he says. "Do you know what the truth is? I was more excited that Denkinger called it."


As Morris begins the inning, the camera pans to the dugout, where a svelte Ron Gardenhire, the team's third-base coach, is tossing a helmet in the air. Kelly is standing next to him but soon retreats to the tunnel behind the dugout.

Kelly jokes, "I'm going to go throw up."

Morris offers his manager some relief, using just nine pitches to retire the side in order. In doing so, the starter throws another one of those changeups, this one to Hunter.

"He had all those pitches to throw, slider, fastball, split-finger thing," Kelly says, "and he's throwing that doo-doo over there."

"That's because they took it," Morris argues. "It was a free pitch."

"Yeah, they took it," Kelly comes back, "for ball one."


Through six innings, Morris has thrown 84 pitches. Kelly didn't keep track of pitch counts then. Instead, he said, in a game with no clock, managers kept track of the time.

"You're going to laugh at me, and you're going to say, 'Boy, that's stupid,' " Kelly says. "There was a thing years ago that if the game got to two hours and 10, 20 minutes, you better keep an eye on your pitcher. I'm serious. Whether they'd thrown 100 pitches or 80 pitches or 110, 120, whatever it was, it didn't seem to matter. It seemed like two hours and 10, 15, 20 minutes, things started to get shaky."

Morris got stronger.

At one point in the seventh, Morris remembers, he looked up at the fans. For hours already, they had been screaming and standing, and now they were exhausted.

"I grew up in the Cities, I was a Minnesota sports fans," Morris says. "I was thinking about the Vikings, I was thinking about all the Super Bowl losses. I was a (Fran) Tarkenton fan, I was a Joe Kapp fan, but I remember how disappointed I was as a Minnesota fan when we lost. Now I'm looking at everybody, and they're spent. They're literally drained. And I said: 'We're not losing. If it takes until the sun comes up tomorrow morning, we're not going to lose.' I never had so much will to win a game as I did that day."

He retired the side in order again that inning. He had thrown just nine pitches in the sixth inning, 11 in the seventh and would need only eight each in the ninth and 10th.


Smith singles to start the eighth, and up comes Pendleton. On a 1-2 forkball, Pendleton swings and, replays suggest, misses the ball. It bounces in the dirt and into Harper's glove. It should have been strike three, but Tata rules it a foul tip. Morris glares down the third-base line and raises both arms in confusion.

"The biggest turning point in the game, where an umpire could have made the right call and didn't," Morris says. "So now Lonnie becomes the goat for all Braves fans."

Pendleton sails the next pitch into left-center field for a double. Smith takes off from first, and as he nears second, Knoblauch pantomimes fielding the ball and throwing it to Gagne. Smith looks at Knoblauch and slows as he rounds second. Announcers Tim McCarver and Jack Buck are convinced Knoblauch has fooled Smith, who makes it to third, but his hesitation almost certainly costs Atlanta a run.

The play made Smith a pariah in Atlanta, but the leadoff hitter has maintained he wasn't duped by Knoblauch and Gagne. If he had been, he's said, he would have slid into second base. Instead, Smith has said, he lost the ball off Pendleton's bat and was worried Puckett would run it down in the outfield. Kelly and Morris say they believe him.

"This nonsense here, he didn't go for any deke. He just didn't know where the ball was," Kelly says as a replay flashes on the screen. "Lonnie, in my mind, he made a mistake by not knowing where the ball was. Should he have scored? Yes, probably so."

A Gant groundout brings up Justice with runners on second and third and one out.

Justice batted just .259 with two extra-base hits (both homers) during the '91 World Series, and though other Braves had more success against Morris, none worried the starter more than Atlanta's right fielder.

If the Braves had won Game 7, Morris says, Lemke would have been MVP, but Morris treated the infielder more like a pest than a threat. Justice, he says, "could ruin your day." So when Kelly made his only mound visit, with Justice due up in the eighth, Morris knew what was coming and, he insists now, he didn't disagree.

Kelly wanted to intentionally walk Justice to load the bases. Morris obliged.

That brings up Bream, and he falls behind 1-2.

"This," Morris says in anticipation of what's about to happen, "is an unbelievable play by my first baseman."

Bream hits a grounder to Hrbek, who fields the ball cleanly and throws home, where Harper is standing on the plate for the second out of the inning. Harper fires back to first, where Hrbek catches the ball to complete the inning-ending double play. The big first baseman celebrates by spiking the baseball into the turf.

In the bottom of the inning, Randy Bush hits a pinch-single. One out later, Knoblauch singles, moving Al Newman (pinch-running for Bush) to third. And that is where the duel ends. Cox pulls Smoltz for reliever Mike Stanton, who works free of the jam.

Until Morris and Smoltz watched Game 7 together earlier this year, Morris says, he never paid attention to what the opposing starter did. When he finally watched Smoltz's 7-1/3 innings, he was amazed.

"No wonder we didn't score," Morris says. "It was sick, the stuff that he was throwing out there. He was hitting his spots. I bet he didn't make three, four mistakes the whole game."

What took Morris 20 years to realize, Kelly experienced live.

"The anxiety level was very high, trying to score a run," Kelly says. "If we could score one run, we were probably going to win, but we couldn't score a run. It was getting to be very disturbing. I tried all the tricks and I couldn't get a run on the board, so I decided, well, I'll just wait it out."

A camera zooms in on Smoltz, hat off, head in his hands, on the bench. And then the picture moves to Minnesota's bullpen, where Aguilera is standing on a mound, tossing the baseball from his hand to his glove, preparing for an outing that would not come.


Hunter grounds out on two pitches, Greg Olson grounds out on one and Lemke fans on five. A sign hanging in the Metrodome reads, "What's a Lemke?" And after the pesky infielder strikes out, Morris thinks to himself, "I win."

The quick inning was enough to convince Kelly his starter wasn't through. Still, he walked up to Morris, who'd thrown 118 pitches, in the dugout after the ninth and said: "That's all. Can't ask you to do any more than that." He told Morris that Aguilera was ready, but the manager was really just waiting for Morris to claim the 10th.

When Morris did, Kelly threw up his hands, turned away and said, "Ah, hell, it's only a game."

Down the third-base line, where Aguilera had been standing the previous inning, the closer is seated. No Twins relievers are warming up.


Morris retires the Braves in order on a foul pop, a swinging strikeout and a groundout to short.

Morris had thrown 126 pitches through 10 innings and says he would have "wrestled" Kelly to go back out for the 11th. Kelly says that would not have been necessary.

"You were going back out there," Kelly says. "The only time we had a discussion was after the ninth."

Leading off, Gladden breaks his bat on a ball hit to left-center. Gant grabs the ball on the hop and throws to second, where Gladden slides in safely for a double that was no sure thing.

"That took guts or stupidity, one of the two," Morris says of Gladden's base running. "He willed that to happen, and if he wasn't on second base, I don't know if the outcome would have been the same. After that, Cox had to manage different. Everything had to change because he's standing on second base."

Knoblauch steps in next with orders to bunt. He takes the first pitch for ball one. Reliever Alejandro Pena's next throw is right down the middle, a perfectly buntable ball. Knoblauch shows bunt for a second time but takes the pitch for a called strike.

"Was he taking there, or was the bunt on?" Morris asks his manager.

"I don't know what he was doing besides pissing everybody off," Kelly says. "Bunt the damn ball."

On the next pitch, Knoblauch follows that directive. Pendleton comes in from third to field the ball, and Gladden advances safely, forcing Cox's hand. Cox has Pena walk Puckett and Hrbek to load the bases with one out, and now Kelly has to make a big decision. Jarvis Brown, who had pinch-run in the ninth, is due up, and Kelly looks around for a pinch hitter. He sees Gene Larkin, unused in the game because a knee injury had left him unable to run.

"Geno was standing there waiting in the runway," Kelly says. "He was swinging. He was ready to go. He'd been ready for about 2-1/2 hours."

Larkin, his left knee visibly swollen, sails Pena's first pitch over Hunter's head in left field.

"Watch what Danny does," Morris says. "He pimps this."

Standing on third, Gladden raises one fist in the air as soon as the ball leaves Larkin's bat. When the ball bounces on the turf, Gladden takes off toward home. As Gladden stomps on the plate with both feet, Morris, his glove and hat still in hand, is the first player waiting to smother him and start the celebration.

Morris has a photo from that, of his teammates jumping up and down in one big embrace, and in that particular shot, it looks as though the starting pitcher is holding up the entire team, all by himself.


Not long after, up in the clubhouse, Kelly finally makes his way to his ace and envelops him in a giant hug.

The year had not been easy on Morris. He was going through a divorce and was separated from his two sons a great deal.

"The clubhouse was my family," he says. "It was my peace of mind. It was my serenity. It was everything to me."

Morris doesn't want to say what Kelly told him during their embrace, but he clearly remembers. Watching their exchange play out brings tears to the gruff pitcher's eyes, so Kelly lightens the mood as the screen shows Morris receiving the World Series MVP trophy.

"How the hell," Kelly hollers, "did you get the MVP?"

But T.K.'s hug was not the weightiest moment of Morris' night. That came during the team's victory lap around the Dome. As the group passed first base, Morris spotted his parents with his sons in the stands. He noticed his youngest, Erik, in grade school then, was crying, and Morris veered off course to find out why.

"I said, 'What's wrong? What's wrong?' " Morris remembers, his voice cracking and his eyes welling up. "He said, 'Dad, I'm so happy.' There's nothing better."

For the Twin Cities, a place that last celebrated a championship on that October night in 1991, there's been nothing better since.

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