Pitcher that inspired Disney's 'The Rookie' visits Timber Rattlers
GRAND CHUTE (WLUK) -- It was a special treat for a group of young ballplayers with one common goal, to make the Major Leagues. Something Jim Morris had to wait 35 years for.
"I think when you live life there's a lot of obstacles you come across and your heart is going to determine whether you have the perseverance to flourish through that or if you're just going to give up and fold your tent," said former Major League pitcher Jim Morris."
Morris was Major League Baseball's oldest rookie and the inspiration behind the 2002 Disney picture, 'The Rookie' with Dennis Quaid.
"When he took the job I played catch with him in California in his front yard," said Morris. "I called my mom and said mom, guess where I am? And she said where? And I said playing catch with Dennis Quaid in his yard!"
Morris shared his story with Timber Rattlers Wednesday, but most of the team was about 3 or 4 years old when the movie premiered.
“A lot of guys were like, so what’s this guy’s deal he’s just a Major Leaguer? And I’m like no, he’s not just a Major Leaguer there’s a movie about him,” said Timber Rattlers pitcher Michael Petersen.
“It’s a story about never giving up and do what you love and if you have passion for something don’t let anybody tell you can’t do it,” said Erickson.
After the 1989 season, Morris was ready to call it quits on his pro baseball career, but he returned to the game in 1999 and made his Major League debut that season.
“Anytime you have a baseball story, anything that has some relevance to what these guys are going through and what I went through as a player and now managing young men," said Erickson. "You’re interested to hear what people have to say especially when it’s as unique of a journey as he’s had. His message isn’t just good for young baseball players, but young men in general.”
“He’s in his 30's. I’m sitting here, my birthday’s today I turned 24. I’m like I’m old, I’m old. This guy was in his 30's when he got his chance so you always have a chance," said Petersen. "He did say make sure you’re not mediocre, be your best. Be your best everyday and I agree with that. If you’re your best every day no matter what you’re doing, if you’re your best everyday, you’re going to do well in life.”
The first organization Morris signed with was the Milwaukee Brewers in 1983. He played minor league baseball in Wisconsin with the 1984 Beloit Brewers. Nine members of that roster made the Major Leagues.
"It’s been awesome because that’s where I met my first friends that played baseball for a living," said Morris. "Even though it was a meager living we still did it as a job and so I made lifelong friends with them and it’s been fun.”