Warren Morris


A Piece of History

Life is full of twists and turns that are all part of your path. Everyone’s path eventually leads to where you’re meant to be.

Fortunately for me, that place was at home plate in 1996, making history by hitting the game winning home run in the College World Series.

The road to get to that moment was never a straight line. 

A chance offering to play on a Little League team whetted my appetite for the sport that would eventually change my life.

Looking back, I often wonder what would have happened if I declined the offer.

I might have never picked up a baseball bat.

The big risk

Academics are ultimately what got my foot in the door of college baseball.

I was the valedictorian of my high school class, and the coaches knew I was going to be on an academic scholarship.

A former coaching buddy of my dad’s had a tie-in with LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman, who eventually invited me to walk on.

After arriving on the team, there was still a part of me that felt like I didn’t belong. I kept wondering if I’d ever be good enough to play at that level.

It would have been easy to pick up my glove and go home, but I decided to put all of my chips on the table and give it a shot.

I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what if.

It was nothing but hard work from that point on.

I remember going to the batting cages when everybody else was going home at night. Deep down, the desire to maximize my skills drove me to be a better ball player. I knew I had to work harder because I wasn’t as naturally talented as the other players.

The coaches encouraged me and assured I’d get a chance to play someday. When you hear that long enough, you start to believe it. After playing in the outfield for a season, I finally got an opportunity to step into my natural position as a second baseman in my third year.

We didn’t make the World Series, but I had a really good year.

It was good in the sense that it proved I was capable of not only holding my own and contributing, but I could also be a leader for the team.

I actually did well enough that Coach Bertman invited me to the USA Baseball trials that summer. I played on the USA national team that summer that included future MLB stars like J. D. Drew, Jacque Jones, Mark Kotsay and R.A. Dickey, when I was contemplating if baseball was even an option a few years prior.

The injury scare

But it wasn’t all glory from here on out.

It was about the 12th game of the following season when things took a turn. I hit a ball off the end of my bat and got a base hit, but my hand didn’t feel right when I got to first base.

I didn’t play for a month after that because I lost all of the strength in that hand. When tests, x-rays, and multiple doctor visits failed to turn up anything, one month soon became two months.

I always thought hard work and paying your dues were the keys to success. Being injured and forced to sit out during what looked to be a special season was downright devastating.

But I held steadfast to my faith and put my trust in God.

The team sent me to do another test, and it was finally discovered I had a broken hamate bone. It was a common baseball injury that I didn’t know anything about at the time.

I underwent a surgical operation around 30 days out from the first game of our regionals in the NCAA playoffs. Who would have ever thought I’d be back in the lineup for that game?

I clearly wasn’t 100 percent, but we still went on to win the four games at our regional and advanced to the College World Series.

I remember going to the batting cages when everybody else was going home at night. Deep down, the desire to maximize my skills drove me to be a better ball player. I knew I had to work harder because I wasn’t as naturally talented as the other players.

The hit heard ’round the world

And well, you probably know the rest of the story.

Down by one run, with one runner on third base in the bottom of the ninth inning — I can honestly tell you I wasn’t thinking home run when I stepped to the plate.

Why would I?

I hadn’t hit a home run all year.

All I was thinking was hitting a line drive and knocking in the one run to tie the game. I remember not wanting the enormity of the moment to overtake me. I reminded myself to stay aggressive and be ready to jump on the first pitch thrown.

Maybe I’m more of a risk-taker than I thought.


The ball came off my bat on a line and I initially expected the ball to fall short. But it just kept going.

I was running and thinking maybe I could get a double, and the ball kept soaring right over the fence.

I was as surprised as everybody at the ballpark that day.

I just remember circling the bases and getting to home plate, where the rest of my teammates were waiting.

It was just chaos.

That happened 26 years ago, and there isn’t a week that goes by that somebody doesn’t mention something about it. People remember where they were and what they were doing. It’s like a moment in history, and they want to tell me about it. It never gets old hearing stories like that.

I’ve gotten letters from people telling me about where they were, what they were doing, and who they were watching it with when it all went down.

Crazy, if you actually think about it.

But sports unite. And I guess so did that moment.

It’s a moment that’s every bit as great as even my stint in the majors.

People often ask if I’d do it all again. My response is that I’d repeat all of it in a heartbeat, including the injuries, to have it end the way it did.

As a kid in the backyard, you take a rock and stick and throw it up and pretend like you’re in the bottom of the ninth inning — one runner on — and you try to hit that rock over the fence.

It really happened for me.

If you asked the 11-year-old version of myself to write a futuristic story on his best accomplishment, I wouldn’t be able to write it as good as it ended that day in Omaha.