Warren Morris talks about "the" day

Discussion in 'The Tiger's Den' started by BB, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. BB

    BB Founding Member

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    Not my intention to overload everyone with Warren Morris, but I just can't get enough of it - here is an article from the Advocate this week:

    For Morris, 'the' day lives forever


    By SCOTT RABALAIS
    [email protected]
    Advocate sportswriter

    For eight years, he's listened to their stories. Of where they were when it happened, how they knocked over a table or leaped up and clocked their head on a ceiling fan in that moment of pure purple-and-gold joy.
    It's as if their experience of the home run Warren Morris hit that day won't be complete until they've told him their tale, made the connection, shared somehow in what is arguably the greatest single moment in the history of both the College World Series and LSU sports.

    Morris, as polite and self-effacing a professional athlete as you will find, listens to them spin their stories with that polite little smile of his on his face. It's a role he has become accustomed to playing -- the role of a lifetime, probably.

    "When I go around the country, people still ask me about it, but more do here (in Louisiana), of course. It's special to bring something like that to Louisiana," said Morris, a native of Alexandria.

    There really is only one person in the world who really can relate to Morris. That's Bill Mazeroski, who hit the homer in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates past the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series.

    Both Morris and Mazeroski played second base for the Pirates. Once, while Morris was with Pittsburgh, they got to compare history-making homers.

    "He laughed and said that it's such a big thing in Pittsburgh that people still think that's the first thing that's on his mind when he wakes up every morning," Morris said. "It's not (for him) and I'm the same way. Sometimes I go days without thinking about it."

    These days, it's impossible for Morris not to be reminded. LSU and Miami are playing Saturday in the CWS for the first time since that unforgettable June day, a day whose memories have not faded for Morris despite the passing of nearly a decade.

    "I can still remember the things going through my head as I went to bat," Morris said, "feeling like I was floating around the bases."

    He didn't step up to the plate trying to hit a home run. After missing 45 games because of surgery to remove the broken hamate bone from his right wrist, Morris hadn't hit one all year. With two outs, all he really wanted off Miami reliever Robby Morrison was a base hit to bring in Brad Wilson from third base with the game-tying run.

    "I didn't go to the plate looking to be a hero," Morris said. "You watch the video and I'm running as hard as I can trying to get a double. To see it go over the fence, I was as shocked as anyone."

    He may not have gone to the plate trying to be the hero, but Morris couldn't have been more heroic if someone had written his character into a baseball movie. He was Roy Hobbs beneath a purple batting helmet. The only thing missing were arcs of sparks erupting from the stadium floodlights.

    Destiny definitely touched Morris on the shoulder. He was batting ninth that day because he had missed so much time with the hamate injury. If Morris had never been hurt, he would have been batting second or third in the Tigers lineup.

    But destiny, which began to work on Morris when he hurt his wrist the previous November at the U.S. Olympic team trials, singled him out for immortality. Morris' swing off Morrison's first-pitch slider looked to be a laser-like double down the right-field line. But the ball just hung in the Omaha air until it finally came to rest three rows up in the bleachers tucked just inside the foul pole.

    "It was easily the highlight of my sports career," Morris said. "It was so special, too, for me because I had been with those guys for three or four years and I missed so much of that year."

    Morris rarely gets to visit with his teammates from that championship season. He's playing baseball -- currently with the Toledo Mud Hens, the Detroit Tigers' Triple-A club. A lot of them, Morris said, jokingly are now pharmaceutical salesmen. Trading in part on the fame that Morris helped create for them.

    Morris and Morrison have never crossed paths except for that brilliant blue day in Omaha. Morris has talked about the game with former Miami players Alex Cora and Pat Burrell, who, like Morris, have gone on to play in the majors. Destiny denied Burrell that day, the wind keeping a towering fly ball he hit to left with the bases loaded in the ballpark.

    Burrell had to be content with a sacrifice fly. Just to the right of where Burrell's ball was caught, Morris' image remains on a rotating sign above the outfield that reads "Where Dreams Come True." His arms are perpetually lifted over his head in triumph, his mouth agape over what he had done.

    "Both of them (Cora and Burrell) said that from time to time they think about it and look back at it as a great moment and a great game," Morris said. Time does heal wounds eventually.

    As this LSU-Miami game approaches, Morris is wounded again. He broke his finger in a freakish injury when a bat slipped out of his hands a couple of weeks ago. He has another week or so with his finger in a splint, so while the Mud Hens were on the road this week the team let him come back home to Louisiana for a brief visit.

    The team is at home again Saturday so Morris will be back in Toledo, ducking into the clubhouse trying to catch snippets of the LSU-Miami game.

    He has to know virtually nothing could happen in that game to eclipse the moment he had eight years ago. He has to wonder if he will ever do anything in his career to equal, much less eclipse, that one gorgeous swing.

    "I kind of separate the two, I guess. That and playing in the Olympics" -- Morris played for then LSU coach Skip Bertman that summer in Atlanta, winning a bronze medal -- "was the end of my amateur career. Winning a medal in the Olympics and winning that game with that swing, I couldn't write a better ending to my amateur career.

    "Then it was on to pro ball. That part of my life is over -- I'm never going to play amateur sports again. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to get in a World Series game and get a winning hit there, too."
     
  2. tirk

    tirk im the lyrical jessie james

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    admit it, you're warren's mom or warren himself. good article.
     
  3. islstl

    islstl Playoff committee is a group of great football men Staff Member

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    Overload us baby!
     

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