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A Dad’s Dying Wish

Marlins rookie outfielder Logan Morrison gave his father a cherished gift with his major league hitting. This is their inspiring story of bonding over baseball and making it to the big leagues—together.

Logan Morrison by Getty Images

Tom Morrison traveled 29 hours by train from Slidell, Louisiana, to New York last week to see his son Logan, a rookie Florida Marlins leftfielder, play in the big leagues for the first time. Long as the trip was, it was one that any proud father would make. His only regret was that he hadn’t been able to see his son play sooner. When Logan played his first game for the Marlins on July 27, Tom was in the hospital. He’d been there much of the spring and all of the summer. A non-smoker, he was dying of inoperable lung cancer that had spread to his brain.

Logan was with Tom when doctors told him his prognosis on April 17. Tom’s first question was not, “How long do I have to live?” but “Am I going to be around long enough to see my son get his first big-league hit?”

Logan burst into tears. He and his father, a chief petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, are especially close. Every night in summer for batting practice, Logan told The Miami Herald, his dad threw him 100 balls “until his arm fell off.” Tom didn’t pitch to his son in order to hone what he saw as potential major league ability, he did it because for the two of them it was fun. They bonded over baseball.

Even when Logan turned professional, he seemed a long shot to make the majors. The Marlins drafted him in the 22nd round five years ago, when he was 18, and assigned him to their lowest-level farm team, where he hit .239 with two home runs in 187 at-bats. But he soon flourished, exceeding the team’s expectations. Logan had a toughness, a pugnacious confidence about him, much as his father had had as a college football player at the University of Kansas.

Logan singled in his first game with the Marlins in San Francisco against the Giants. Tom heard about it from afar. “That was killing me, not being able to see him play,” Tom told ESPN.com.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Tom started feeling better. He begged his doctors to let him travel to see his son play. They finally agreed, with one proviso: He could not fly. So he took that long, overnight train trip.

Tom could have had box seats. But last Tuesday he headed to the leftfield stands instead. He wanted to be as close as possible to his son. In the sixth inning, he caught Logan’s eye. Logan waved. That night, Logan went 1-for-5, singling and scoring a run. The following night, Logan’s 23rd birthday, he was in the lineup again. With Tom watching again from the leftfield seats, Logan tripled, singled twice and scored two runs, helping the Marlins to a 5-4 victory.

After the game, Logan told reporters, he and his family planned a celebratory dinner. He confided that though it was his birthday, he had wrapped a present for his dad. It was a baseball, the ball he had smacked for his first big-league hit, back on July 27.

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