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THE ROOKIE

Jim Morris
When Jim Morris first played professional baseball in 1983, he got as far as the Milwaukee Brewers' Class A team, but the left-handed pitcher suffered a catastrophic shoulder injury in 1986 and retired from baseball in l 989.

Ten years later, Morris got another chance. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays signed the high-school chemistry teacher amid coach, when he threw 98 mph at a tryout camp in Brownwood, Texas. A few months later, he came out of the bullpen at The Ballpark at Arlington in the Devil Rays' Major League uniform. He was the oldest rookie pitcher in forty years.

"I guess the biggest thing I tell people about my story, Morris recalls, ''is it's about family and it's about dreams. I'm living proof that you can always achieve whatever it is you pursue as long as you put your full heart into it.

"Everyone had been telling me what a good story it was," Morris remembers, "but I was so busy living it day to day. I didn't really think about it until I retired. Now, if I were to read about this about someone else, I'd probably sit there and say, 'Yeah, right. This isn't happening.' But I lived it and experienced it, and it's been a great trip.

Morris retired from the Los Angeles Dodgers during spring training, 2001. He had lived out his dream, and kept his promise to the championship high school team he had coached. having achieved his Major league baseball dream, Morris thinks ahead. "It allows me to sit back and watch my kids grow up, and help them achieve whatever it is they want in their lives."

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