With the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays about to face off in the World Series, I thought it would be appropriate to give a tribute to my grandfather, Doyt Morris, who broke into the big leagues with the Philadelphia Athletics on June 6, 1937. Though his career was cut short (1937-1938) when he slid into third base and injured his shoulder, my grandfather was and is my major league hero.
I can vividly remember growing up as a boy and having “Gran” teach me how to play the game. It seems like yesterday that we were in my back yard on those hot NC summer days throwing a plastic baseball and learning to hit as he would throw pitch after pitch. As I grew up, he would attend my baseball and basketball games (Gran was also a basketball player, he was the team captain for both the baseball and basketball teams at Wake Forest University). I was always extra motivated to play when he would come to my games.
Regrettably, my grandfather died at a relatively early age on July 4, 1984. I have never forgotten that day, Independence Day. I was in my back yard helping my Dad with the yard work when I got the news.
I know our heavenly Father’s ways are perfect. But, I have always wished that Gran were still around. There was so much I wanted to ask him and learn about from his major league experience. As I type this tribute, I can’t help but to get a little choked up (no pun intended!).
The Philadelphia Athletics were a part of the American League. They have been proclaimed as “Philadelphia’s Most Successful Sports Franchise.” Just after their second year of existence in 1902, the Athletics won the American League pennant. The World Series had not yet been instituted. But the 1902 victory was the first of nine American League pennants and five World Championships the Athletics won. Pennants that were won include 1902, 1905, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1929, 1930, and 1931. World Series that were won include: 1910, 1911, 1913, 1929,and 1930.
Moreover, the club produced such Baseball Hall of Famers as: Frank Baker, Chief Bender, Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins Sr. Jimmie Foxx, Nelson Fox, Lefty Grove, George Kell, Nap Lajoie, Connie Mack, Eddie Plank, Al Simmons, Tris Speaker, Rube Waddell, and Zack Wheat.
Due to a lack of sufficient funds, absence of a full minor league system, the age of Connie Mack and the growing popularity of the Phillies in 1950, the Athletics moved to Kansas City after being sold on November 5, 1954.
Even though the Athletics and Shibe Park (the home of the Athletics) are no more, they continue to live on not only in the baseball history books but also in the heart of a grandson whose grandfather was and is his major league hero.