James "Jimmy" Samuel Morris (born January 19, 1964 in Brownwood, Texas) is a former American professional baseball player known for his brief Major League Baseball career.
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, but 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 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.
While coaching baseball for the Reagan County Owls, 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. At tryouts, the Major League scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays initially wasn't interested in Morris. But, the scout agreed to allow him to try-out so Morris could keep his promise to his students. Surprisingly, Morris discovered that in spite of his age, and having several surgeries on his arm, he was able to throw a 98-mph fastball. In fact, he threw 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 Class AA Orlando Rays but after a few appearances he moved up to a spot with the AAA Durham Bulls. Thanks to solid 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.
His arm problems recurred, limiting him in 2000 to only 16 major league appearances, after which the Rays released him. 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. 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.
A feature film made by Disney called The Rookie was released in 2002 about Morris's climb to the big leagues.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays all-time roster
Career statistics and player information from ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
MLB historical statistics
Retrosheet boxscore of his major league debut
The Unnatural (August 2001)
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Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Morris"
Categories: 1964 births | Living people | American members of the Churches of Christ | Major League Baseball pitchers | Major league players from Texas | People from Texas | Tampa Bay Devil Rays players | Durham Bulls playersHidden categories: Articles needing additional references from November 2007 | Wikipedia references cleanup
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