I watched a baseball movie this weekend called “The Rookie.” It was about Jim Morris, a former minor league pitcher who had retired due to a series of arm injuries to become a high school science teacher and coach in small-town Texas. After losing a bet with his baseball team, he was obliged to attend a major league pitching tryout and found that his fastball, only 86 miles per hour when he was 20, had mysteriously improved to 98 miles per hour. After some hesitation – he was 35 years old and had a wife and three kids – he pursued his dream and eventually made the big leagues.
The great thing about this movie is that it’s a true story and the movie doesn’t exaggerate. Many of the details that seem to be Hollywood fabrications actually did occur. It was indeed his high school catcher who made him promise to try out for a major league team if his under-achieving squad won their division championships. He did travel to an open tryout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with his three children, – the youngest only one year old – and was changing diapers and playing games with them while waiting to pitch.
And he did get his shot at the Big Leagues – striking out his first batter in the majors – Royce Clayton of the Texas Rangers – in four pitches. And his entire town did indeed show up to watch.
The movie ends on that note. But what happened after his fairy-tale debut in the “Bigs?”
His baseball career lasted only two seasons before his injuries caught up with him again. He finished his major league career with an 0-0 record and an ERA of 4.80 and 13 strikeouts in 21 games. He was released after entering a game against the Yankees with the bases loaded and the score tied – he walked the first batter to lose the game. He tried once more to make the big leagues – the following spring, with the Dodgers, but wasn’t picked up.
What happened to Jim Morris after his baseball career ended? He wrote a book. Called “the Oldest Rookie. It was the basis for the Disney movie. To me, the transition from baseball player to writer could be material for another movie.
What was his salary for that year of baseball? (It was 1999-2000). He made $200,000. I imagine it was significantly better than his salary as a high school teacher.
And what does he do now? He lives in Dallas and is an inspirational speaker who makes appearances for $9,000-$15,000 a shot. You can see his website at: http://www.jimtherookiemorris.com/
There is an excellent 16-minute speech excerpt at the following link. But don’t be surprised – he doesn’t look like Dennis Quaid (star of the Rookie). Here’s an amusing quote from the excerpt:
“Scouts are looking for ball players. Scouts aren’t looking for people who look like scouts.
The excerpt is at: http://www.jimtherookiemorris.com/Movies/1006_HI.wmv
His major league stats are at:
Dick Moss, Editor,
[tags]The Rookie,Jim Morris,baseball,coaching,physical education[/tags]