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Warren Morris to speak at Vidalia FBC

From The Concordia Sentinel - by: Joey Martin - posted Thursday, February 25th, 2010 @ 8:30 am

Warren Morris said there are a few days that go by that he doesn't talk about "the home run."

"But not a week," he added with a laugh. "I'm just amazed that after 14 years people still remember that."

Morris will speak about his faith and baseball at First Baptist Church Vidalia Wednesday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m.

LSU reached the championship game of the College World Series in 1996, and was trailing Miami 8–7 in the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Morris came up to the plate with one runner on base, and hit Miami relief pitcher Robbie Morrison's first pitch just inches over the right field fence. The walk-off home run won the game for the Tigers 9–8. It was his only home run of the season, and is the only walk-off championship-winning home run in College World Series history. In addition, it is the only 2-out, ninth inning, walk-off home run in a championship of any collegiate or professional level.

The home run also won Morris an ESPY award for "Showstopper of the year."

"I can remember running the bases and the first thing I thought about was, 'Wow, I just hit my first home run,'" Morris said. "Then I saw the Miami players on the ground and realized we just won the World Series. Even that night after the game watching the highlights Sports Center I wondered who that guy is running the bases."

Morris, who is an investment banker at Red River Bank in Alexandria, joined the LSU baseball team in 1993. He did not receive an athletic scholarship to play baseball, but made the team while on academic scholarship as a second baseman.

He did not play at second base in his first season at LSU, because the Tigers already had All-American Todd Walker at the position. Morris did see action at other positions.

Walker went pro after the 1994 season, and Morris would become the team's starting second baseman from 1995 to 1996. His best season at LSU came in 1995. He would hit .369 with eight home runs, 50 RBI, and 18 stolen bases.

LSU was expecting big things from Morris in 1996, but a broken wrist kept him out of the lineup for much of the season. He did rejoin the team in time for the 1996 postseason, which would include the College World Series. However, the wrist injury still lingered. He could not hit for power, and was placed at the bottom of the lineup.

"Unfortunately, my home run is the only thing a lot of people remember about that year," Morris said. "I only played in 20 games. I just happened to come through at the end. There were a lot more big moments from so many guys in tying for the SEC West championship and getting to the World Series. You can't forget all those other moments."

Morris was named to the SEC All-Academic Team three straight years. He had a 3.72 grade point average as a junior.

Morris was drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft by the Texas Rangers as a second baseman. He started out in the Rangers' farm system, but was later traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with relief pitcher Todd Van Poppel for starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza. He made his major league debut in 1998, going from non-roster invitee in spring training to starting second baseman early in the season.

Morris had a promising rookie season with the Pirates, hitting .288 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI. He also made the 1999 Topps All-Star Rookie Roster at second base. It would be his best season as a pro, however, and the Pirates would release him before the 2002 season. Morris was the starting second baseman for the 2003 Detroit Tigers, following the release of Damion Easley. For the rest of his career, he was a journeyman infielder, splitting time between the major and minor leagues. He announced his retirement from baseball in 2006.

Morris attends Calvary Baptist Church in Pineville, where he is a deacon. That is also the home church of First Baptist Church Vidalia Interim Pastor Rev. Bill McCullin.

"I've had Warren speak at several places, mainly about baseball," McCullin said. "He is a great father and husband. At First Baptist he is going to talk about the way he has lived such a Godly life and everything he has been through. His stint in the Major Leagues was short and a bit frustrating, but he relied on his faith. I'm sure he will talk a bit about baseball."

"Because of that home run I got to meet a lot of people and have the wonderful opportunity to speak at churches," he said. "God blessed me with that and I am trying to show people the good things that have happened to me through God."

Morris said he remains a huge LSU fan.

"I enjoyed watching LSU win the College World Series last year and it brought back a lot of great memories," he said. "I'm a big fan like everyone else in the state. When I got there we had one championship. Now it's six. That just goes to show you how great the program is and the great job that Coach (Paul) Mainieri has done."