This is an excerpt from a feature story written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey J. Ranel. To read the entire story, click here.
As the train approaches the station in Slidell, La., it is obvious how large it is, strong and powerful. It has a take-charge, noticeable presence, much like a Coast Guardsman, but even more so, like a father.
When the train hisses to a stop, Chief Gunner’s Mate Tom Morrison, a 28-year Coast Guardsman stationed at Sector New Orleans, gathers his luggage, and prepares himself for a journey 23 years in the making. It is a journey that will span 29 hours and 13 states. This odyssey is a reflection of his life and of his accomplishments, especially when it concerns his single source of pride, his son.
Most people would ask, why are you taking a train all the way to New York? And Morrison would say, “I’m going to enjoy the hand that was dealt to me and go see my son play baseball.”
Morrison was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma lung cancer in April, and was recently cleared by his physician to travel to see his only son play baseball for the Florida Marlins. This is the first chance that Morrison had to see his son play in the major leagues since he was drafted in July.
It wasn’t long after Logan was born that Morrison showed his son what would be the single most defining moment of his life; how to throw a baseball.
“He could throw the ball across the room, he was three!” said Morrison. “I saw this as a good opportunity to teach him a great sport, and the opportunity to be a good dad.”
Morrison taught him how to hold the ball, how to stand, and tried to convince him to switch-hit, a task which proved to be more of a challenge considering Logan was left-handed and insisted on batting that way.
He would tell Logan, “make every bat count!” Today, Logan’s batting average is .299, which considering another famous lefty named Mickey Mantle whose batting average was .353, makes it apparent that his dad’s commitment to Logan’s growth as a player made a positive impact.
Through hitting off the tee, throwing pitches in high school and now playing in the major leagues, Morrison has watched his son grow into an accomplished baseball player and a respectable young man. Now he gets to witness, first hand, the culmination of their effort, dedication and hard work.
Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010, Morrison and his family, sat in section 129 at Citi Field, just feet away from Logan’s left field position. That night Logan had five at bat, one run and one hit. Though the Marlins ultimately lost to the Mets, 6 -5, it was a win for Morrison.
Logan played in two other games that week against the Mets, and also celebrated his 23rd birthday with his father and his family.
Statistics show that close to one percent of baseball players make it to the major leagues. Morrison contemplates that fact and how it applies to his life.
With a smile on his face, Morrison exclaims, “there’s no cure for what I have. The chances of me going into remission is two percent, Logan had a one percent chance and he made it.”
He sees hope in the journey.