Baseball and Softball

Former pro Bobby Morris opens baseball and softball center

2013-11-29T18:00:00Z 2013-11-30T00:01:15Z Former pro Bobby Morris opens baseball and softball centerJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

SCHERERVILLE | If Bobby Morris could travel back in time, what advice or assistance would he give a younger version of himself trying to follow an older brother into the big leagues?

"There's so much advancement in training today a lot of guys like myself wish we had access to in our day," said Munster native Morris, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of the University of Iowa. "For example, we have a program that helps kids increase their velocity (of their throws).

"I would have loved to add six or seven miles to my fastball."

But Bob, weren't you a middle infielder? Or did you really aspire to be a pitcher?

"I was a shortstop who threw across the diamond at about 83 miles per hour, tops," Morris said. "If I could have thrown 90, that would have really helped raise my stock.

"That's the way the game is today. Not only are players hitting the ball farther, they're throwing the ball with greater velocity. It's common for position players to throw at top speeds in the 90s. It's also more common for pitchers to throw in the 100s. Barely anyone threw in the 100s 20 years ago. Now just about every major league staff has someone who can throw that hard."

Though Morris didn't throw 90, he hit .290 in nine seasons with the Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers organizations.

"It wasn't like I didn't know why (I never got called up to the major leagues) as they were always up-front with you," Morris said. "It's extremely competitive as you move up through the minor leagues, and you have to realize that you're one of a very few who can say they play professional baseball."

Earlier this month, Morris opened up Morris Baseball and Softball Center within Omni Health and Fitness in Schererville. Formerly, the White Sox Training Centers had a satellite location at the site as five retractable batting cages and an artificial turf training surface that occupies half of the club's fieldhouse remain.

"It wasn't like this was going to be vacant long once (the White Sox) pulled out," said Morris, who was one of the WS Training Centers instructors. "There were a lot of people trying to take over this spot, and I was lucky through my working relationship with Omni that they decided to rent it out to me."

For the longtime coach and instructor, this is Morris' first namesake training center. Several years ago, he started the Morris Baseball travel ball program.

"We're up to seven teams," Morris said, "but the travel team is a 501 (c) non-profit organization and is a separate entity from the center."

Many of the former WS Training Center (Schererville) instructors are part of the MBSC staff, including Jay Jones, Jim Crowell and former minor league manager and veteran scout Bill Bryk, who incidentally graded Bobby higher than his brother Hal Morris, who went to help the Cincinnati Red win the World Series during a breakout rookie year in 1990 and hit .304 over 13 major league seasons.

"I never was jealous of Hal," Morris said of his brother, who lives on the West Coast. "We were always very competitive growing up, be it basketball, tennis, video games, ping pong ... you should have seen our ping pong games.

"But that kind of changed when we got older, and he was one of the reasons I was able to get as far as I got in pro ball. It was a great that someone from our family made it, and now [as a MBSC advisory board member] we're on the same team."

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