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January 19, 1964 |
|September 18, 1999, for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 9, 2000, for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Earned run average||4.80|
Morris was born in Brownwood, Texas, but spent most of his childhood moving to different cities, as his father was in the Navy. Throughout his childhood, Morris lived in New Haven, Connecticut, Great Lakes, Illinois, and Jacksonville, Florida. He began playing baseball at the age of three. His father, Jim Sr., became a recruiter for the United States Navy. His father and mother, Olline, settled in Brownwood, Texas. He attended Brownwood High School, but as Brownwood did not yet have a baseball program, he played football for the Lions from 1979–82 and won the state championship as a wingback, punter and kicker with Gordon Wood as a head coach. Still, he never gave up on his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player.
Morris was originally selected 466th overall in the January 1982 amateur baseball draft by the New York Yankees but did not sign. He would then later be selected fourth overall of the 1983 amateur draft (January Secondary) 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, never having progressed past the single-A minor leagues. He signed with the Chicago White Sox organization for 1989, but was again unable to rise past the single-A leagues.
Unable to make anything of his career, Morris 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.
While coaching baseball for the Reagan County Owls in the spring of 1999, 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 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 was not the losing pitcher in the game as the runner who scored on the walk was actually put on base by the previous pitcher, who was tagged with the loss. Morris never recorded any wins or losses in any of his major league appearances.
Morris was signed in December 2000 to a minor-league contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was released during spring training. At the end of his major league career he was 0–0 with an ERA of 4.80 and 13 strikeouts.
- "Jim Morris Player Page". Baseball Reference.com. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
- "Jim Morris Stats". Baseball Almanac.com. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
- Jim Morris Bio at jimmorristherookie.com
- "Jim The Rookie Morris". Corporate Artists.com. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
- "Jim Morris Bio | The Grable Group"