It is said that everyone has his fifteen minutes of fame. For some, it lasts forever. For others, though, it is temporary, passing as easily as the weather. But for Jim Morris, a high school chemistry teacher who believed his fame had come and gone, comes a story about a rookie that shows it’s never too late to believe in your dreams.

Step aside Kevin Costner-Dennis Quaid dons the glove this time in a film by director John Lee Hancock.

The Rookie is the true-life story of pitcher Jim Morris, who was forced to retire from baseball in 1989 due to a shoulder injury. Ten years later, at the age of 35, Morris was signed to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after throwing a 98 mph fastball at a tryout in Brownwood, Texas. He made his major league debut a few months later against the Texas Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington, striking out shortstop Royce Clayton.

“I thought it was over,” Morris said warily. “Everybody has those dreams. Well, what if I had tried it just one more time. But I wasn’t going to quit coaching and teaching to chase something that never worked the first time. I have a group of sixteen and seventeen year old kids to thank for that.”

Morris had the chance to relive his dream through the inspiration of the championship-winning high school team he coached.

Morris recalled, “from the bullpen to the mound, all I could think about was how long it took me to get there, and my whole baseball life kind of flashed before me and I realized how long a journey it was to get to that point.”

But how does someone start pitching so much faster ten years later?

“The doctors told me that if I ever figured out to let them know so they could patent it,” Morris replied with a chuckle. He then paused. “I think the biggest thing was God wasn’t ready for me to do it when I was in my twenties.”

Though the film seems storybook, it is over ninety percent accurate.

“I am so happy with the final product,” said Morris, a smile streaming across his face.

Quaid, a native Texan, agrees.

“This is John Lee Hancock’s vision, and he did an incredible job. I was just there to help him by showing up to work on time!”

Quaid continues: “It’s more than a movie about baseball. It transcends the sport to show everyone to go for that second chance.” Which is exactly what Morris did, becoming one of the most inspirational stories in recent history.

But how do you do it? How does one realize his or her dreams and reach for them?

“Don’t try it unless you have a burning desire to do it, and if you have a burning desire to do it, don’t listen to anyone who’ll tell you, you can’t,” Quaid said.

Morris responded differently: “Don’t ever let yourself ask your own self ‘what if.'”

“I have [my high school team]to thank for learning about second chances,” he said. “They put me up to the thing that you have to practice what you preach, and they threw it back on me.”

March 29, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.