Pitching for the first time since he gave up the most famous home run in college baseball history, Robbie Morrison heard the chants.
“L-S-U,” they shouted from the opposing dugout at the Cape Cod League.
Then a rising sophomore, Morrison was flustered. He admits, now, 20 years later that he hit a couple of batters intentionally. Walked a few, too, because of his frustration.
The inning ended. He gave up one run.
“That was the only run I gave up the whole Cape Cod season,” Morrison said Wednesday.
It was the first hurdle the Miami closer cleared in erasing the most bitter athletic memory of his career — surrendering Warren Morris’ game-winning home run in the 1996 College World Series championship game on a first-pitch curveball.
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LSU’s weekend series against Arkansas provides, perhaps, the final one.
Morrison will attend all three games of the Tigers’ series, and, before Sunday’s series finale, will throw out a ceremonial first pitch to Morris, whom he has never met or spoken to since that June day in 1996.
The weekend was orchestrated by “Walking with Tigers” author Jeffrey Marx, who stays in frequent phone contact with Morrison, a 2012 inductee into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.
Since the two became close, Marx always tried to lure Morrison to Baton Rouge but was often met with trepidation or denials.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought about Baton Rouge, just with the history and all that,” Morrison laughed. “As I thought about it, my wife and I talked about it and we said ‘Well, what can it hurt?’ Let’s go down there, check it out, have some fun with it.’ ”
Morrison also worked with LSU junior reliever Collin Strall when the sidearmer was 10-12 years old, giving the 47th overall pick in the 1998 major league draft a bit more incentive to enter the stadium where fans watch his slow walk off the mound after the Morris home run with glee.
“That was a huge piece in my life,” Morrison said. “Something I battled with for years, quite frankly. It’s something that’s helped me as much as it’s hurt me, looking back at it now. But I battled it for years, I really did. It’s been 20 years now and I’d say three, four or five years (after), I got over it. I was done with it and I put it behind me.”
Morrison will meet Morris at 5 p.m. as part of WNXX-FM’s “After Further Review” at Walk-On’s before Friday’s series opener.
The two men will join former LSU coach Skip Bertman and Patrick Coogan — the winning pitcher in the 1996 championship game — for a Saturday meet and greet at the restaurant.
“Now, a lot of people may have folded and not been able to pull through a situation like that, maybe gave up on the game or whatever,” Morrison said.
“But truly, in the end, I think it made me tougher.”
Morrison’s able, now, to laugh at the home run when folks mention it. He chuckled recalling an airplane conversation with an elderly woman two years after the home run.
He and the woman exchanged pleasantries and when Morrison, who was just a freshman when he gave up the home run, told the woman he was a Miami baseball player, she had a question.
“How’d that idiot do who gave up that home run at the World Series?” she asked.
Morrison’s doing just fine, though he knows little of what to expect Sunday when he ambles to the mound and Morris crouches behind the plate to catch his first pitch.
“Jeffery’s been really trying to pull me, get me to go out there, so I finally caved. I don’t know what to expect,” Morrison said. “It’s going to be somewhat fun, somewhat interesting. It’s going to be a weird experience, but why not experience it?”