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How accurate is The Rookie?
May 06, 2002
The movie version of former Devil Rays pitcher's Jim Morris's life doesn't quite bat 1.000, but it connects more than not. In the film Morris, played by Dennis Quaid, is drafted by the Brewers in 1983. His fastball tops out in the mid-80s, he undergoes arm surgery and he quits before making the majors. Ten years later, after the high school team he's coaching wins its district title, Morris attends an open tryout for the Devil Rays (to which he brings his three young children). There, his fastball hits 98 mph. He's signed by the team and eventually gets called up to the big leagues. In his first game in the majors, he strikes out Rangers shortstop Royce Clayton on three pitches.
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May 06, 2002

How Accurate Is The Rookie?

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The movie version of former Devil Rays pitcher's Jim Morris's life doesn't quite bat 1.000, but it connects more than not. In the film Morris, played by Dennis Quaid, is drafted by the Brewers in 1983. His fastball tops out in the mid-80s, he undergoes arm surgery and he quits before making the majors. Ten years later, after the high school team he's coaching wins its district title, Morris attends an open tryout for the Devil Rays (to which he brings his three young children). There, his fastball hits 98 mph. He's signed by the team and eventually gets called up to the big leagues. In his first game in the majors, he strikes out Rangers shortstop Royce Clayton on three pitches.

Aside from a minor detail—Morris needed four pitches to whiff Clayton—the rest is true. The film did take other liberties: Morris never clocked himself by throwing a ball past a traffic radar gun. The minor leaguer who was called up along with Morris wasn't an African-American named Brooks; it was infielder Steve Cox, who is white. Also, Morris didn't give his first big league ball to his father but to his son.

As far as what the film didn't show, Morris retired in March 2001 after two seasons with Tampa Bay. (In 21 games he had an ERA of 4.80 and no decisions.) When he quit he was suffering from tendinitis and a bout of homesickness. "I missed my kids terribly," he says. "I was 37, and I already had done as much as I could or wanted to do."

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