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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who is James Samuel Morris?

Who is James Samuel Morris? The baseball world knows him as "Jimmy" Morris, he is a former American professional baseball player known for his brief Major League Baseball career.

Morris was born January 19, 1964 in Brownwood, Texas, he spent most of his childhood moving to different cities. According to his autobiography, he began playing baseball at the age of three. After the Vietnam War his father became a recruiter for the United States Navy and his family settled in Texas. He attended Angelo State University but as his school did not yet have a baseball program, he played football for the Lions in 1979 and won the state championship as a wingback with Gordon Wood as a coach. Still, he never gave up on his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player.

Originally selected 465th overall in the January 1982 amateur baseball draft by the New York Yankees but did not sign, Morris would then be later selected fourth overall in the January 1983 amateur baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and signed with the organization. He suffered several arm injuries in the minor leagues, and was released during the 1987 season. He caught on with the Chicago White Sox organization for 1989, but was unable to make something of his career, and retired to become a high school physical science teacher and baseball coach at Reagan County High School in Big Lake, Texas, with his wife Lorri, his 9 year-old-son and his five and one-year-old daughters Jessica and Jamie.

While coaching baseball for the Reagan County Owls in the late 1990s, Morris made a promise to his team that he would try out for Major League Baseball if his team won the District Championship, something the team had never accomplished before. His team won the title, and Morris kept his end of the bargain by attending a Tampa Bay Devil Rays tryout. The scout wasn't interested in Morris, but gave him a tryout solely to let Morris keep his promise to his players. Surprisingly, Morris discovered that in spite of his age, and having several surgeries on his arm, he was able to throw 12 consecutive 98-mph fastballs. After much debate with his family, Morris signed a professional contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization at the age of 35. He started out with the Minor League Double-A Orlando Rays, but after a few appearances he moved up to a spot with the Triple-A Durham Bulls. Thanks to solid pitching performances with Durham, Tampa Bay gave him a chance to pitch with the big club when the rosters expanded, and on September 18, 1999, against Royce Clayton of the Texas Rangers, the 35-year old Morris made his debut, striking Clayton out on four pitches. His goal of pitching in the majors was finally realized, and he made four more appearances later that year.

Morris made 16 major league appearances in 2000, during which his arm problems recurred. His final appearance came on May 9, 2000, at Yankee Stadium. He entered a tie game in the bottom of the 10th inning with the bases loaded, and issued a game-ending bases-loaded walk to his first batter, Paul O'Neill, after which the Rays released him. He attempted to catch on with the Dodgers the following spring but wasn't able to overcome his injuries. At the end of his major league career he was 0-0 with an ERA of 4.80 and 13 strikeouts.

Morris has released an autobiography, The Oldest Rookie. He often appears as a motivational speaker, and currently receives $9000-$15000 for each appearance.[1] He often mentions God in his presentations.

A feature film made by Disney called The Rookie was released in 2002 about Morris's climb to the big leagues. He was portrayed in the film by veteran actor Dennis Quaid.

Morris was the subject of an episode of the game show To Tell the Truth.

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