The University of the Cumberlands honored a special group of former athletes as they were inducted into the 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame recently.
Among them for his athletic and coaching success is Lynch resident and longtime coach Roger Morris.
Born the son of Victor and Maxie Morris in Keokee, Va., Morris is the ninth of 10 children including seven girls and three boys. Father, Victor Sr., played baseball in the coal fields in the late 1920s and early 30s. This may explain the Morris family athletic talents for years with a member of the family on the Keokee High School baseball or basketball team for 25 consecutive years.
Roger’s brothers played and coached college basketball and baseball. His brother, Victor Morris, ‘64, preceded Roger at Cumberland, and was selected a Small College All-American in baseball before being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Cumberlands in 2002.
Morris graduated from Keokee High School and enrolled at Cumberland College in the fall of 1962. His brother, Vic, was a senior that year and they played baseball together for one season. Roger’s yearly batting average at Cumberland consisted of .489, .320, .379 and .400.
In his first college game against Pikeville, he went five for five, including a home run in his first time at bat. In a double header against Campbellsville during his freshmen year, Morris went seven for eight. Coach Walt Mathis told Morris he would have led the nation in hitting that year if he had accumulated 10 more at bats.
After his graduation from Cumberland in 1966, Morris moved to Dayton, Ohio and was signed by the California Angels. He was to report for spring training in El Centro, Calif., but was drafted into the Army in October. After basic training, he was sent to Fort Hood, Texas for Military Police training.
Following A.I.T. training, Morris was asked to manage and coach the 13th Support Brigade Team at Fort Hood. He accepted the position and his team won the championship that season. About three months later, he was shipped to Thailand where he served as a Liaison adviser with the Thai Marines.
The Angels helped Morris acquire a three-month early leave from the military. He played one summer with the Quad City Angels and attended spring training in 1969, where he was a late release due to his age.
Roger played summer baseball in Dayton with college players and former pros. He was coached by the legendary amateur coach Ted Mills. In 1985, coach Mills picked an All-Time All-Star team from players that had played for him from 1962-85. Morris was placed on the first team of all-time players. Mike Schmidt, former third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and later inducted into Cooperstown, was placed on the second team.
In 1969, Morris began a high school coaching career that lasted 42 years. He coached baseball and boys and girls basketball at Keokee High School for 13 years. In 1982, Morris became the head baseball and assistant basketball coach at Cumberland High School.
He served 22 years as head baseball coach, nine years as assistant and three years as head basketball coach.
His baseball teams won the district title 18 times and the regional title 13 times (nine years in a row), going to the State Final Four in 1985.
Morris also coached the East in the first East-West All Star Series, during which the East won two of three games.
He was elected to the Kentucky Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998 with over 400 victories at the time.
In 2004, Morris retired from Cumberland High School. He coached at Lee High School for five years before retiring in 2009. During his coaching career, his teams acquired over 700 victories, winning 80 percent of their games, many of which came against larger schools. Sixty of the players who called Morris their coach went on to play collegiate baseball.
Morris is the father of twin daughters, Joey and Kelly, who led Cumberland High School to the Class “A” Basketball Championships in 1991 and 1992. Both daughters received basketball scholarships to Lees McCray in North Carolina. Joey was Kodak All-American during her sophomore year. Kelly later transferred to University of Kentucky and then to the Atlanta Art Institute. Morris also has two grandchildren, Maya and Roan.
In addition to Morris, joining this elite club were Timothy Henderlight (Cross Country/Track & Field), Ivan Johnson (Men’s Basketball), and Jerry Williams (Men’s Basketball).
For complete biographical information and details concerning the Cumberlands Athletic Hall of Fame, visit http://www.cumberlandspatriots.com/f/Alumni/Hall_of_Fame.php.
For more information on the Athletic Hall of Fame, contact Dave Bergman at email@example.com 606-539-4355.