Morrison's special moment highlights season's first weekend
Logan Morrison homered on Opening Day and saluted his late father, Thomas
The Orioles' young pitching looked tremendous in sweeping the Rays
The Rangers got their AL title defense off to a good start, sweeping the Red Sox
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Shortly after Marlins' rising star Logan Morrison touched home plate on his Opening Day home run against the Mets last Friday, he pointed to his mother, Diane, and a dozen other family members who were there at Sun-Life Stadium for Logan's first Opening Day, which also happened to be his first major league game since the death of his beloved dad.
After he pointed to his mom, he saluted his late father, who was his hero. There wasn't a dry eye in the Morrison contingent. That includes Morrison, who, at 23, is far too young to lose a parent. Thomas Morrison died of lung cancer last December at age 51 and when Logan homered in that 6-2 victory over the Mets, he could think of nothing but his father.
"I think about him every day, and a lot yesterday,'' Morrison said to the Miami Herald. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here. It's something I've always dreamed about, playing Opening Day and him being there to see it.''
The night, a roller coaster of emotions, was perhaps the most memorable moment of an interesting first weekend in baseball. It certainly had to be the most moving.
"I was fighting back tears [during] the National Anthem,'' Morrison told SI.com. "It was a very emotional night. It's going to be an emotional season. I am just going to try to honor him the best way I can.''
He does that just by being such a fine young man. He is a favorite of fans, teammates and owner Jeffrey Loria, who loved it when Morrison told him after attending a bar mitzvah at Loria's request that a small part of him wanted to be Jewish. When Thomas Morrison died, Loria flew 13 Morrison family members up from Louisiana, where he died, to the Morrison homeland in Kansas City for a memorial. Logan called Loria's gesture "awesome.'' Several family members were on their way to say goodbye to Thomas Morrison when he passed away.
Thomas Morrison, a Coast Guard officer and former University of Kansas football player, was an unlucky man. A non-smoker, he was diagnosed last April with Stage IV lung cancer, which spread to his brain. When Tom received the diagnosis, Logan, his only child, was there, and he wept immediately. One of Tom's first questions was whether he might live long enough to see Logan play in the big leagues.
Tom was lucky about that. While the illness wouldn't permit him to fly (or be in warm-weather climates), he had the opportunity to bus to New York to see his only child play shortly after his debut, on Aug. 25, Logan's 23rd birthday. It was a 29-hour ride from Slidell, La., but he made it. And he made it to Milwaukee and to other places that weren't Miami or warm. One trip he couldn't make because of a blood clot. But those that he could make, he did, cheering so enthusiastically sometimes it seemed hard to believe he was dying.
"If he could be there, he was there,'' Logan said. "He wasn't going to let cancer get in the way.''
Under impossible circumstances, Morrison batted .283 for the Marlins in his first year, and more impressively for a rookie, he posted a .390 on-base percentage. The 22nd round draft choice of 2005 who emerged as a top prospect almost immediately was on his way.
Eventually, Tom's cancer took over, and on December 10, Logan revealed the news to the world that his father had died on his popular Twitter page, @LoMoMarlins. "Shortly after 9 p.m. last night my hero Thomas Morrison passed away,'' he tweeted.
Logan Morrison has a remarkable attitude about a terrible lifebreak. He's dealt with a lot for someone so young. On Jan. 17 of this year, it became a double tragedy for the Morrison family when Thomas' younger brother Daniel was struck by a car and died.
"Same church, a month later,'' Logan recalled, sadly. The entire Morrison clan was back at St. Therese Catholic Church in Kansas City.
"I guess when it rains it pours,'' Logan said. "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.''
Life's circumstances have made him one of the strongest 23-year-olds you're ever going to meet.
Here are some more snapshots from the first weekend:
The Orioles' starting pitching looked superb in winning their first three games, allowing only six hits and one run in 20 innings. It's a small sample size (as are they all at this point), but if I could get one do-over from spring training, it would be my dismissive piece on the Orioles. Perhaps I underestimated pitching coach Mark Connor, second-year catcher Matt Wieters and their young pitching talent. And maybe even their manager, Buck Showalter, who has guided them to a 37-23 record since taking over the team with baseball's worst record last season. I did like Zach Britton, and it was good to see him get the call for the third game after Brian Matusz went down with a back injury. Britton belongs in the bigs now, and good for the Orioles calling him up after initially sending him back to the minors.
I feel better about my pick of the Rangers for the World Series after noting how their offense was the best I'd seen in spring. It's only one series, but what a series it was. The Rangers slugged .775 against the vaunted Red Sox and hit 10 home runs. Ian Kinsler, who looked superb in spring, and Nelson Cruz became the first set of teammates ever to homer in each of the first three games. One little talked-about sidelight: Kinsler likes to outdo Dustin Pedroia, whose presence at Arizona State University caused Kinsler to transfer to the University of Missouri. The two were not close.
Ever since the Indians changed the name of their park to Progressive Field, their attendance seems to have regressed. Sad to see them not break 10,000 in the second game of the season, which came against the rival White Sox.
Funny that Asdrubal Cabrera has participated in all three triple plays by the Indians at Progressive Field, as @MLBBastian noted.
Phil Hughes' velocity was said by mlb.com to have been between 87 and 91 in his season debut. That's no surprise to @DKnobler of cbssports.com, who noted in spring that scouts were appalled by Hughes' low gun readings. He said at the time that they were mostly between 87-89, exactly right. This is a concern for the Yankees.
Good to see A.J. Burnett, on the eve of his 2011 debut, come out and admit that one of his problems could be mental. Perhaps it's no coincidence that he pitched a solid game in winning his season debut over the Tigers.
New Mets manager Terry Collins' surprise move to bat Willie Harris second in two of the first three games paid off. Harris, who hit .183 in 2010, was 4 for 10 through the weekend.