Logan Morrison pays tribute to Dad
Marlins outfielder salutes late father after home runs
Each time the Marlins' Logan Morrison hits a home run, he trots around the bases respectfully, without any pomp and circumstance, no styling and no showboating. Then, when he crosses home plate, he stops for a moment and snaps off a sharp military salute.
And some place, perhaps, Tom Morrison salutes back.
The home run salute is Morrison's tribute to his father, who served as a chief petty officer in the United States Coast Guard, and who died last December -- far too young at age 52. "I feel like the salute is a way to remember him and let my family know I'm thinking about him," Morrison said. "I think about him a lot."
Baseball has bonded fathers and sons forever, and it was no different for Tom and Logan Morrison. "He did everything he could for me," Morrison said. "There were times I didn't want to play. He made me play."
The Morrisons were a military family, moving often. "We lived in a bunch of different places," Morrison said. "I went to three different high schools. It was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. I learned to get along with people. I get along with everybody."
And wherever they went, there was always baseball. His father made sure of that. "Baseball provided that bond," Morrison said. "It kept our whole family close together."
Morrison was selected by the Marlins in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft. The young outfielder then began a slow, steady climb through Florida's Minor League system, and last July 27 he got the call every young player waits for, a promotion to the Majors.
By then, though, Morrison was carrying an awful burden. On April 21, 2010, Tom, living then in Slidell, La., was diagnosed with inoperable and advanced lung cancer. His remaining time would be limited. The news devastated his son.
A month after Morrison joined the Marlins, the team was in New York for a series against the Mets. His father decided that he wanted to see his son play on Logan's 23rd birthday. By then, though, Tom could no longer fly.
"He took a 30-hour train ride to get to New York," Morrison said. "I wanted him to see me play. But a 30-hour train ride? He told me not to worry, that he would be all right. He was set in what he wanted to do."
Morrison was 3-for-5 with a triple in a 5-4 Marlins victory. The next night, he had a pair of doubles, the first of four two-double games he had in his rookie year. That was part of a stretch of 42 consecutive games in which he reached base, setting a Marlins rookie record. In 62 games, he batted .283 with 20 doubles, seven triples and two home runs, establishing himself as a solid Major League player.
Meanwhile, however, Tom's cancer was getting worse.
Logan Morrison remembered the end. "My dad died on Dec. 9," he said. "He was only 52. It was tragic to lose him that young. I remember his last words. He said, `Help me. Help me.' And then he was gone."
It was a sad conclusion to what otherwise should have been a memorable first Major League year for Morrison. "At least," he said, "I had him last season."
Now, to keep his father's memory alive, Morrison tries to raise money and awareness about lung diseases. "I do all I can do for that cause," he said.
And there is one other thing the young outfielder does.
He flashes that classic military salute after every home run.
Hal Bock is a freelance writer based in New York.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.