Feb. 2, 2007
There was snow on the ground and bone-chilling cold outside, but inside Allen Arena it was time to talk about baseball as well as dreams imagined and dreams fulfilled.
Friday night Jim "The Rookie" Morris who made a phenomenal trip to the Major Leagues at the age of 35 was the guest speaker at the first ever Lipscomb Baseball Leadoff Dinner. Approximately 500 guests attended the event.
Dr. Steve Potts, Lipscomb's director of athletics, welcomed the crowd. He also introduced George Plaster, host of the Afternoon Sports Zone 104.5 The Zone, the top-rated radio show in Nashville, who served as Master of Ceremonies. Plaster introduced Jeff Forehand, in his first year as baseball coach at Lipscomb.
"When the announcement was made that Jeff was going to be hired at Lipscomb I instantly said, `he's the one,'" Plaster said. "Most you know what a great job he has done at Trevecca and before that at Goodpasture. Steve Potts said at our table that we haven't played a baseball game yet, but that Jeff has already made a big impact on the program. He added that not only is Jeff changing our program and making it better, but he is changing lives as well.
"Jeff is going to leave no stone unturned in the right way to make this program a success. If this doesn't work it won't be because of lack of effort. Whether it is the condition of the field or the addition of the seats from County Stadium in Milwaukee if Jeff is involved with it then it is going to be done right."
Forehand thanked everyone for their support of the program and his plans for this season and beyond. The season is set to begin Feb. 9 when Evansville visits Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Marsh Stadium. He wants to see the team return to the tradition of success set by Dugan when he was the coach.
"For people to turn out in February with snow on the ground to support this baseball team is huge for me," Forehand said. "I knew it was here. There are many former players who are here and many former players who had a big impact on this program. What we want to do is take the next step."
Morris challenged the crowd and the Lipscomb baseball players in particular, to chase their dreams and not always take the safe route. He stressed not allowing people to tell you that you cannot do something, using several examples from his life. Morris was a 35-year-old high school science teacher and baseball coach. He had given professional baseball a try in the minors, but never got above the Class A level. He was told by a doctor at the age of 24 that he would never pitch again.
Morris urged his high school players to achieve and follow their dreams. They challenged him to pursue his dream of pitching in the Major Leagues if they won a district championship. He went from a tryout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the Majors, debuting in the Ballpark at Arlington against the Texas Rangers.
"Every kid who goes to school here (Lipscomb) has the possibility of being anything they want to be," Morris said. "With all of you supporting them they have that ability to chase that dream whether it be medical school, baseball or basketball.
"You have a baseball coach here at Lipscomb who is very charismatic. He is going to have his kids playing at the top of their games."
Jeremy George, a former Lipscomb baseball player and 2002 winner of the Ken Dugan Award, gave the opening prayer. Rob Smithson and the other seniors on the baseball team presented Morris with several gifts in appreciation of his appearance. Butch Stinson, a former Lipscomb baseball player and a member of the Lipscomb Board of Directors, gave closing remarks and the closing prayer.
"I'm excited about this season," Stinson said. "I'm excited about what is happening at Lipscomb. There is a change going on. We are going to get back to where we were (in baseball)."
Event sponsors were Gary Waller, Brian Edwards, David Osborne, Jackie Charlton, Jeremy George, Randy Newman, Lisa Newman, Chuck Williams, Greg Wilkins, Bobby Ogdin, John Nickerson, Steve Fletcher and Bill Marbet of Southern Athletic Fields.
Corporate sponsors for Lipscomb Athletics are Draper Jewelers, Baptist Sports Medicine, Holiday Inn-Select, Vietti Foods, Tennessee Car & Van, Chick-fil-A in Brentwood, Data Supplies, Inc., 21st Century Christian, Lakeshore Estates, Purity Dairies, Hampton Inn-Brentwood and Pancoast Benefits.