SAN ANTONIO — Many people know him as “The Rookie,” from the hit Disney film that captivated sports fans and moviegoers across the nation. From humble beginnings in Brownwood, Texas, Jimmy Morris rose from the ranks of high school baseball coach to Major League Baseball pitcher. At the age of 35, in a league where most players retire in their thirties, Jimmy made his rookie debut as a starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Morris coached baseball at Reagan County High School in the 1990s in Big Lake, Texas, a west Texas oil drilling community. When his team of high school students challenged him to heed his own advice to never give up on your dreams, they made a friendly wager: If his team won the district championships, he would try out for the majors again, reigniting a dream extinguished ten years prior because of an injury.
While his major league career only lasted a few years due to persistent tendonitis, Morris defied the odds and became a living testament for the power of a can-do attitude. His inspirational story was captured in his memoir, The Oldest Rookie, and made famous when Dennis Quaid played Jimmy in the 2002 film “The Rookie.”
His journey led him to BCFS, a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations headquartered in San Antonio. BCFS has named Jimmy Morris the agency’s new Motivational Specialist. In this role, he’ll speak to youth and families in BCFS programs and facilities around Texas, including youth transition centers and transitional housing for youth in foster care, and others struggling with issues like poverty, homelessness or abuse.
“I want to give back,” Morris says. “It’s not about me. It’s about what God can do through me.”
Jimmy has served as the keynote speaker at BCFS fundraising events in Lubbock, Abilene and Kerrville the past several years. Ben Delgado of BCFS’ Community Services Division called Jimmy’s story “truly inspiring.”
“BCFS aims to empower struggling teens and families to dream big, set goals, and work hard to achieve them,” says Delgado. “So it’s powerful to show them what the quintessential underdog is capable of. Jimmy is living proof that no dream is too big.”
Throughout his major league career, Jimmy always kept in mind the lessons he learned from his grandfather, Ernest, about perseverance and success. “Remember who you are and where you came from,” his grandfather would say. Now 51, Jimmy lives those wise words daily.
As Jimmy works to inspire those in need, he confronts a daunting obstacle of his own. In 2013, Jimmy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that causes uncontrollable tremors throughout the body. As champions do, Jimmy has persevered through the diagnosis and pushes onward.
BCFS Health and Human Services operates transition centers across Texas that provide youth counseling, case management, and assistance with education, employment, and housing. Several BCFS transition centers also offer parenting education programs that connect parents to community resources to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Jimmy’s enthusiasm is evident and he’s eager to serve as motivational speaker, mentor and advocate for BCFS youth and families. “It’s about who I can help, and who I can push,” he says. “It’s my job to tell the kids what they’re capable of.”
All this coming from a man who can throw six different fast balls; his fastest was clocked at 102 mph. And while he admits that life can come at you fast, he stands firm in his belief that with God all things are possible, and it’s never too late to make a difference.
For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net.
BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected, assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities, mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services, medical services, transitional living services for at-risk youth and those in the juvenile justice system, residential camping and retreats for children and families, and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.