Jim Morris Biography
Jim Morris was the feel-good sports story of 1999, when at 35 he became a rookie pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Morris was a science teacher and baseball coach in a Texas high school when, urged on by his students, he attended a Devil Rays tryout. When Tampa Bay scouts found that he could throw the ball 98 MPH, they signed Morris to a minor league contract. Late in 1999 he was called up to the major league club and made his unlikely debut against the Texas Rangers. Morris pitched in 21 games for Tampa Bay in 1999 and 2000 before shoulder surgery ended his 2000 season; he retired with a sore shoulder while in spring training with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001. He co-wrote a 2001 book about his experiences, titled The Oldest Rookie, and his story was made into a 2002 feature film, The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid as Morris.
Morris struck out the very first batter he faced in the major leagues, Royce Clayton of the Texas Rangers... By coincidence Morris played AAA ball for the Durham Bulls, the team celebrated in the 1988 Kevin Costner movie Bull Durham... Morris's story is sometimes compared to that of Vince Papale, who was a 30-year-old rookie for football's Philadelphia Eagles in 1976. Papale's story was also made into a film, the 2006 feature Invincible.