James Samuel Morris, b. Jan. 19, 1964 in Brownwood, TX, had a brief major league baseball career, but his story is one of the most unique and inspirational in baseball history.
In January of 1983, Morris was selected in 4th overall in the January portion of baseball's amateur draft. He suffered several arm injuries in the minor leagues, and was released during the 1987 season. He caught on with the White Sox organization for 1989, but was unable to make something of his career, and retired to become a high school teacher and baseball coach.
The team often lost a lot of games but in 1999, he inspired the club to play better. They made a bet that if they won the title that Morris would attend a major league tryout. Sure enough, they were district champions, and Morris followed up on the deal by trying out for the major leagues. He impressed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in his major league tryout, and immediately earned a spot on their AAA club, the Durham Bulls. Thanks to solid performances with Durham, Tampa Bay gave him a chance to pitch with the big club when the rosters expanded, and on September 18, 1999, against Royce Clayton of the Texas Rangers, the 35-year old Morris made his debut, striking out Clayton on 4 pitches. His goal of pitching in the majors was finally realized, and he made 4 more appearances later that year.
Arm problems limited him in 2000 to only 16 major league apperances and the Rays released him. He attempted to catch on with the Dodgers the following spring but wasn't able to overcome his injuries.
His story is well documented in his autobiography, "The Oldest Rookie", and in 2002, it was translated to the silver screen by Disney as "The Rookie", starring Dennis Quaid. Since his retirement, he's become an in-demand motivational speaker.