I’m really happy for Matt Morris, a worthy selection to the Cardinals Hall of Fame. His call to the hall was only a matter of time. Waiting isn’t unusual in Hall of Fame voting. As a red ribbon committee member, I can testify that it can be difficult to sort through a volume of impressive candidates to form a ballot for the fans. And then the Cardinal fans take it from there by casting votes online. For the top modern-era vote getter each year, the next step is the summer induction ceremony. This was another win for Matty Mo.

Morris waited for awhile, but that’s normal in Hall of Fame voting when there are so many acclaimed players to choose from. But Morris wasn’t forgotten by the fans who loved and greatly appreciated him during his years as a Cardinal. As it turned out, Morris became the fourth modern-era starting pitcher chosen for the team Hall of Fame under the current selection process, following Bob Forsch (2015), Chris Carpenter (2016) and John Tudor (2020.) Another pitcher, the closer Jason Isringhausen, won the vote in 2019.

Here’s why Morris belongs.

And if you stay with the column, I’ll have some personal stuff for you at the end.

1. Morris had an underrated career. He was better than many assume. Only 10 pitchers have made 200+ starts for the Cardinals in franchise history. And of those 10 starters, Morris has the best winning percentage at .620. The rest of the top five are Harry Brecheen (.618), Adam Wainwright (.610), Bob Gibson (.591) and Jesse “Pop” Haines (.571.) Individual won-lost records can be misleading, but if you’re good enough to get the ball for 200+ starts and you win that frequently, then you are a special starting pitcher.

2. The Cardinals had a 124-83 record (.602) when Morris started a game. They never had a losing record in his starts during a season. And there’s more. Coming back from elbow surgery that rendered him inactive in 1999, Morris was used exclusively as a reliever in 2000 to build up his arm strength. The Cardinals were 21-10 (.677) in Matt’s 31 relief appearances. So when Morris took the mound as a Cardinal – starter or reliever – the Cardinals won 61.2 percent of those games. Beautiful.

3. Matty Mo is one of only 13 pitchers in Cardinals history to attain 100-plus career wins; he’s with Larry Jackson and Max Lanier for 11th on the list. But I think it’s important to recognize the differences in time periods, because no eras are the same. And that’s where Morris becomes even more prominent. In that context, only three St. Louis pitchers have more individual victories than Morris during the expansion era, which began in 1961: Bob Gibson had 251 wins overall, with 245 coming during the expansion era; Wainwright (200); Bob Forsch (163) and Morris (101.) Another Cardinal Hall of Famer, Carpenter, is next with 95. When you’re one of the most accomplished starting pitchers for an illustrious franchise during a 64-season platform, you are certified as special.

4. Among STL pitchers with at least 150 starts during the expansion era, Morris ranks fourth in adjusted ERA behind Chris Carpenter, Bob Gibson, and Curt Simmons. Adjusted ERA is an important measure because it neutralizes performance factors based on league and ballpark effects. Among expansion era St. Louis starters, Morris’ adjusted ERA was superior to that of notables Steve Carlton, Wainwright, Forsch and Joaquin Andujar. In the expansion era Morris ranks fourth among Cardinal pitchers in games started and innings pitched and is fifth in strikeouts.

5. Morris was credited with 22 wins in 2001, tied for the second-highest total by a Cards starter during the expansion era. Bob Gibson won 23 games in 1970 and 22 in 1968. Gibson had three of the top four winningest seasons by a Cards starter during the expansion era; the other belonged to Morris. The 2001 season was Matt’s finest in the majors. His 22 wins were tied for the MLB lead. He worked 216 innings. His ERA was was sixth among National League starters. The only NL starters with more WAR value than Morris that season were Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Greg Maddux. Morris was named to the All-Star team that season, finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, and received down-ballot MVP votes.

6. How much did the Cardinals depend on Morris? He was a horse. In Matty Mo’s seasons as a Cardinal (1997-2005), his 101 wins were 56 more than the next man on the list, Woody Williams. His 1,377 innings were 788 more than the next man on the list (Williams.) His 23.7 fWAR was more than twice as high as the next starter on the list (Williams.) Morris made 206 starts for the Cardinals from 1997 through 2005; no other STL pitcher had more than 92. Yes, that’s a horse. Manager Tony La Russa called Morris a “stallion.”

7. Morris was a two-time All-Star and pitched in five postseasons for the Cardinals. His overall postseason ERA (4.05) may be disappointing to some, but I can tell you that he often labored through injuries and high innings-pitched totals that left him fatigued in October – but he battled through, anyway. A lot of guys would have never taken the ball, but Morris always did. Why? Because the rotation would usually run low on gas, and Morris believed he owed it to his team to give it a go.

Morris ranks second in Cardinal postseason history with 11 starts and is third for most postseason innings and gave up fewer than three earned runs in eight of his 11 postseason outings. Morris had a major role in getting La Russa’s teams through the multiple divisional rounds by pitching to a 2.31 ERA in five starts.

8. Morris was an essential piece to a Cardinals team that won the most regular-season games, and postseason games, among National League teams from 2000 through 2005.

9. Morris was absolutely vital in 2002. He helped the Cardinals get through a horrendous time after teammate and close friend Darryl Kile died suddenly because of heart failure on June 22, 2002. The grief was painfully intense for Kile’s teammates, who lost more than just a top starting pitcher. Morris was crushed because he idolized Kile, his mentor who taught him so much.

Other problems in 2002 – a cruel run of pitching injuries – left the Cardinals shorthanded and scrambling. In a chaotic season in which 14 different pitchers started games for St. Louis, Morris was a stabilizing presence for a team that desperately needed a calming leader. In ’02 Morris started 32 games and pitched 210 and ⅓ innings. He went 17-9 with a 3.42 ERA, and the Cardinals had a 20-12 record in his starts. The inspired Redbirds recovered from the Kile tragedy to win the NL Central with a 97-65 record. Morris won the first game of the 2002 series sweep of Arizona in the division round, giving up one earned run in seven innings to outpitch Cooperstown Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

The 2002 Cardinals were the most inspiring of all of the Cardinal teams I’ve covered in St. Louis, and Morris was one of the reasons. His influence in 2002 was profound .. professionally and personally.

10. Morris had a 3.61 ERA as a St.Louis starter which was top-20 caliber for a pitcher during the frenzied peak of the steroid era. During his best stretch of pitching – 1997 through 2003 – Matty Mo was tied with Tim Hudson for 10th overall among MLB starters with a 3.26 ERA. Over that time his ERA was ranked ahead of Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Kerry Wood, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine, Mark Mulder, Al Leiter, Jamie Moyer, CC Sabathia, Mike Hampton, Andy Pettitte and many others.

Congrats to Matt Morris, one of my favorite people to wear the Birds on the Bat during my extensive time as a sports-media careerist in St. Louis. He was smart and fun and genuine and had a forever-young persona.

Among other attributes, Morris has excellent taste in all genres of music, and I often went to him for advice for something new to check out. I could always count on him for that. Just as the Cardinals counted on him to win games.

One of my fondest memories of Matty Mo was watching him play catch with his father after missing 1999 because of the Tommy John surgery. Late in the ’99 season, Morris was cleared to begin throwing for the first time during his rehab. It was just a light throw, nothing arduous. But Morris wanted his father to be there to play catch. So his dad traveled from the east coast to share an important moment with his son. The two of them played catch — just as they did when Matty Mo was a boy. The ballpark was empty. It was just the two of them. Father and Son playing catch as Morris took his first step in the resumption of an interrupted career. It was such a sweet scene.

My most lasting memory of Morris has to do with Game 3 of the 2002 NLCS in San Francisco. Kannon Kile was there. The 5-year old son of Darryl Kile was invited to serve as the Cardinals’ honorary bat boy that weekend, and the players and staff made a big fuss over him the entire time. The kid was wonderfully, delightfully happy. His joy and energy had an impact on the team. Kannon would run to the home plate area to retrieve the at-bat and then hustle back to the dugout. The Cardinals were there to greet him each time.

“He’s like a miniature DK,” Morris said that day. “He’s an inspiration for all of us. We want to see how he’s doing and ease his pain, and he’s the one who comforts us. It’s amazing.”

With Kannon Kiles’s heartwarming assistance, the Cardinals defeated the Giants by a run.

After the game, Kannon changed into his street clothes just like the other Cardinals were doing to complete the day at the ballpark. Matty Mo was there to help Kannon. It was something Darryl Kile would have done, just the same way.

OK, now here comes the part where I cried in a major-league clubhouse for the first and only time. I wasn’t sobbing or anything, but it was impossible to stop the teardrops from trickling down.

I was standing several feet away when Kannon asked Matty Mo to show him where his father’s locker was. The boy was used to seeing it at Busch Stadium, and so there was a moment of confusion when Kannon didn’t see something like it in the visiting-team clubhouse.

Morris leaned over and gently explained — on the road the lockers are different — they were located at different places. It wasn’t like the way the lockers were set up in St. Louis.

And then Matty Mo said this:

“Your dad’s locker was always the biggest locker.”

Kannon looked up: “Why? Why did he have the biggest locker?”

Morris had the perfect answer.

“He had had the biggest locker because he was so special.”

“So special,” the 5-year old said, nodding in agreement.

I’ll never forget that. I’ll never forget Matty Mo’s incredible tenderness as he took care of Darryl Kile’s son.

What a dude, Matt Morris. What a dude.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.