Alexandria native and famed former LSU baseball player Warren Morris is awarded June 2017’s Hometown Heroes award. It was presented by WNTZ FOX 48, Randy Wiggins State Farm Insurance and Journey Church.
Morris is awarded for continually being a positive role model for members of the community, especially young people, and the tireless work he does on behalf of Central Louisiana. Joshua Poe, executive pastor of Journey Church, surprised Morris with a plaque and gifts from local businesses across Central Louisiana, valued at $250.00.
Morris gained international fame in 1996 while playing as a two-year starter on second base for the LSU Tigers baseball team. After a regular season recuperating from a wrist injury, he was able to get back to playing strength in the NCAA postseason. In the bottom of the ninth inning in the College World Series championship game against the University of Miami, down 7-8 with two outs against the Tigers, Morris hit the walk-off, over the fence, home run double to secure LSU its third of its now six national championships. Morris is still the only player to accomplish that feat in NCAA history.
Post college, Morris played for the United States baseball team at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, where he and the team earned a bronze medal. He was drafted for Major League Baseball in the fifth round by the Texas Rangers, then played in the MLB for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.
Morris moved back home to Alexandria 12 years ago with his wife, Julie, and two twin daughters at the time, to enjoy a quieter life outside of the sports limelight. He today has a third daughter and works as an assistant vice president for Red River Bank in Alexandria and participates in the Rotary Club of Alexandria, United Way of Central Louisiana and is involved in ministry activities with Calvary Baptist Church.
In the Rotary Club for the last 8 years, Morris is the chairman who spearheads the annual Christmas toy drive, which provides toys for children in less-than-fortunate households across Rapides Parish. Even though he acknowledges the community are the heroes in his mind, those who provide toys to be given away, Morris loves to be involved in making magic happen for children during the holidays. “I really love the fact that I get to have a part in leading that (the toy drive) and bringing those kids a great Christmas,” he said.
Morris is involved with young people as a role model and mentor through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as he feels passionately that his success in and away from baseball would not be possible without his faith. “My faith has always been a big part of who I am, what I do, and without my relationship with Christ, I could have done none of this,” he said.
As Morris explains, any young person can grow up to be what they want to be, no matter their background or where they live —
“I have a heart for helping kids, whether it is athletics, or helping to talk them into confidence, knowing they can do great things, because… I don’t know… I just always grew up in this community, and maybe sometimes as a kid you’d think, we’re not from Chicago or New York, I don’t know if we could do great things — but, I don’t know what you’d call what I did the greatest, but to be known and people to look up to me for athletics — just to let them know, hey… you know… you’re from this community, but you can be the next President or the next senator or whatever you want to be, but don’t think because you are not from some ‘great place or big place on the map,’ this (Cenla) is just as much as a great place here.”
Morris is proud to be an example of when a child from Central Louisiana can grow up to do something that may seem to be impossible. “I used to collect baseball cards as a kid and never ever dreamed that I would be on a baseball card,” he said. “That’s something I get a lot of pride in, and when you turn the back of that card, it says ‘Birthplace or Hometown…’ it says Alexandria, Louisiana. It’s something special I can give a kid a card or sign a card for a kid and know that… hey… I’m right here. I went to the same school… played on the same fields as you did.”
Hometown Heroes is sponsored by Randy Wiggins State Farm Insurance and Journey Church in Pineville.