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The Rookie: The Incredible True Story of a Man Who Never Gave Up on His Dream Paperback – March 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Morris had an astounding fastball and seemed destined to pitch for a major league team, yet his career was doomed from the start. He was drafted by the Brewers, but went from their training camp back to the farm system. He developed injuries that prevented him from pitching and practicing. Morris wouldn't let go of his dream of the major leagues, however. He married, had children, and held odd jobs and continued to work at his pitching while his wife supported him. Morris eventually grew tired of the routine, went to night school and became a high school teacher and later a coach. After his formerly abysmal baseball team won the district championship, his fellow coaches and students urged him to give his dream one last chance. More than a decade after his first tryout, Morris was offered a contract by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This lively autobiography, written with Engel (coauthor of By George, George Foreman's autobiography), will entertain baseball fans and others who yearn to fulfill a childhood ambition. While the writing is polished, Morris's voice remains genuine. He is honest and likable, not least because he recognizes his family's sacrifices for him. While not essential reading for sports fans, this triumphant underdog story is an appealing contrast to those of the players with multimillion-dollar salaries. (Apr. 3) Forecast: With publication around the start of baseball season, an 11-city author tour and radio interviews, this book should get off to a fast start.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This inspiring true story should do well in young adult collections. Morris, a 35-year-old Texas high school physics teacher and baseball coach (whose previous attempts to break into the bigs fell short), was challenged by his students to live up to his dream. Oddly, his pitching arm had only grown stronger with time, and at a new major league tryout his pitches were consistently overpowering. After making the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Morris was featured in Time, People, and Sports Illustrated. His incredible story about second chances will circulate well in most libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446678376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446678377
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,009,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David E. Levine on February 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is only superficially about baseball. In fact, Jim Morris' autobiography is an inspirational story about sticking it out and becoming all you can be. Morris' minor league baseball career was cut short due to injury. However, he had other trials such as a marriage he had to work on and grinding out a living as he completed college, becoming a teacher and coach. If he had never had another opportunity to play professional baseball, his story would have been an inspiration as he became an excellent science teacher and wonderful coach. His teaching and coaching was leading to a fulfilling and productive career.
Of course, as the title of this book implies, he went beyond teaching to again get an opportunity in baseball. And, based on the title of the book, I am giving nothing away by stating that he does indeed make it to the major leagues. With two children in school, I can categorically state that Jim Morris is the type of person I want teaching them. I don't know if he will go back into teaching but it is clear he is as talented in motivating his students as he is as an athlete. I highly recommend this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary G. Longorio VINE VOICE on April 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Oldest Rookie recounts the improbable journey of pitcher Jim Morris to "the Big Show". Born to young parents, his father a military man who didsdained authority, and a mother who picked up the pieces after each move, Jim always remembers having a ball in his hand. Throughout the many moves, sports provided an introduction to new schools, new friends, and self esteem. Sports also provided a safe haven from the change and the chaotic life at home. Baseball was his first love, and the chance to play minor league ball at the age of 19 was a dream come true. Several years of struggle and injury finally eneded the baseball dream, and Jim moved onto real life, a wife, kids, debt, and struggle. Throughout this time, Jim continued school, played college football (punting for his college at the age of 29). Eventually, he found himself coaching high school baseball. Sensing his love of the game, the students make a bargin, if they make it to regionals, Jim will try out for the major league job he never achieved. At the age of 35, Jim Morris was the oldest rookie to ever start in the big leagues, pitching, no less. The story is remarkable enough, but Morris' accounting of the struggles of a young man unable to realize his dream is compelling. Along with co author,Joel Engle , he tells the story of the man his younger teammates came to call "the Unnatural". A wonderful story for any baseball fan, and a story of hope for anyone who feels they have let a dream pass them by.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By W. C HALL VINE VOICE on July 26, 2003
Format: Audio Cassette
Most people will be familiar with the story of Jim Morris from the film, "The Rookie." In brief: Morris was the son of a career Navy officer who grew up with a single, all-consuming ambition: to play major league baseball. Multiple shoulder and elbow surgeries ended his career while he was in the low minor leagues and in his mid-20s. In the meantime, he had married, become the father of three children, and purused a teaching and coaching career. One fateful day he lectured his baseball team about the importance of pursuing dreams, especially those that seem to be out of reach. His team accepted the message, and he accepted their challenge: If they were to make the state playoffs, he would seek a major league tryout at the ridiculously advanced age of 35. The kids did Morris kept his part of the bargain, expecting it to all be over in a couple of hours. Instead, in defiance of all logic, he found himself throwing faster than he had even before his surgeries. The book ends where the movie did, with his successful major league debut.
Some observations about the book and the movie: the film version turns out to be very close to Morris' own story. Morris' isolation while growing up, his often difficult relationship with his parents, all turn out to be true. But while his improbable comeback is the focus of the film, it's only a small portion of the book. This may disappoint some readers, but to me, it added more depth to Morris' story. In the book, he's honest, almost painfully so, about the stresses his marriage endured, in large part due to the pursuit of his dream. I found myself closing this book with a feeling of encouragment and uplift; I think you will too.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the autobiography of Jim Morris, the oldest player to enter major league baseball since 1970. The book transcends sports though baseball fans will enjoy this well written autobiography. However, Mr. Morris' extraordinary story is more about fulfilling dreams that might sound like Don Quixote still going for the gold. He also pays homage to his family for their sacrifices and to his West Texas team that encouraged and assisted an injury-plagued high school coach and turns him into a major league pitcher at thirty-five. Great inspirational story worth reading because Mr. Morris along with Joel Engel tells an amazing true story with grace and honor. Perhaps my spouse's dream of swinging the bat one time is not as farfetched as it sounds.

Harriet Klausner
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joe KRahe on February 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Oldest Rookie
Joel Engel and Jim Morris really did a wonderful job when they wrote the book The Oldest Rookie. The story was so good in fact that it inspired a movie called The Rookie. Although I thoroughly enjoyed both of them I would have to say that the book was better. There are a number of superior qualities about the book. You know it must be really good to because I almost always like the movie more then the book. The Oldest Rookie is easily one of the 5 best books I've read.
In the book, you really get inside Jim Morris's head. You can see how he goes from a kid who did nothing except play baseball, to a minor leaguer who had to retire because of arm troubles, to a patient high school teacher, to a major leaguer. In the movie you see him as a kid playing baseball, however in the book he talks about how when he was younger the only toys he would play with were balls and how he was only in kindergarten when the fifth graders let them play in his baseball games because he was so good. Morris explains how the only think he cared about was baseball and he knew he wanted to be a pro ball player all his life. In the movie you are left to either assume that or to not know it at all. One of the most effective parts of the book was when Morris is describing when he went to play in his first major league game. He talks about how the hard journey had been worth it and you can almost feel his happiness as a smile spreads across your face and you turn the page. In the movie there was no way they could capture this moment perfectly. They just had him stand outside of the stadium for a few moments. In the book, you really get to see how Morris's brain works. He explains how he was a perfectionist and that it really hurt his life.
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