Logan Morrison Fights Back Against Cancer That Took His Father
Sure, Florida Marlins fans can probably repeat Morrison's statistics in the drop of a hat, too. They surely know he hit .283 with two homers, 20 doubles and 18 RBI in 62 games last season after blossoming quickly into one of the hottest young prospects in the Marlins' farm system. Logan made his big league debut July 27, playing left field after playing first base most of his minor league career.
While those statistics are important to Logan, they don't represent life and death. Not even close. These statistics do, and Morrison, just 23 years old, knows the pain and heartache associated with them.
Each year, over 170,000 Americans develop lung cancer, and approximately 10 percent of lung cancers, or 17,000 cases, occur in non-smokers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Lung cancer is also the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world.
Morrison lost his father, Tom Morrison, to lung cancer last month at age 51.
"You see how terrible of a disease it is, what it can do to somebody and what it can do to a family around them," Morrison told FanHouse. "You just won't want people to go through that.
Morrison is hopeful good comes from a promise he made to his father nearly two months ago: He told his father his plans to host an annual charity baseball camp to raise money to fight cancer.
The first LoMo Camp for a Cure, a two-day event at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., will kick off Saturday, exactly one month after Tom Morrison passed away from Stage 4 lung cancer.
"It's a small step, but you have to start somewhere," said Morrison, who added his father thought the idea was "pretty cool" and reminded him of all the camps he took his son to as a youth. "We are trying to raise money to help find a cure for lung cancer and all cancers. I think the sky's the limit for it."
Morrison, polite and personable, talked lovingly and proudly of his father. He recalled the many nights in Slidell, La., when his father would drag out a Rubbermaid storage box filled with baseballs and throw batting practice to him, again and again and again.
"Dad would throw 'em, I'd hit 'em and we'd both go pick 'em up and do it again," Morrison said and laughed. "We spent tons of hours doing that. It's something I will always remember and I am glad I was able to share that time with him."
Morrison's father-son storyline made national headlines last August, when Logan celebrated his 23rd birthday with the best gift he could hope for -- sitting in the visitors' dugout at Citi Field with his father. Tom had made the 30-hour train trip from Louisiana to New York City so he could watch his son playing in the major leagues for the first time as the Marlins faced the New York Mets.
While Logan had been promoted a month earlier from Triple-A New Orleans, his father, a nonsmoker who had been diagnosed with lung cancer on April 17, had been too sick to travel to any Marlins games.
Logan went 3-for-5 in the Marlins' 5-4 victory with dad watching from the left-field stands -- Tom moved from his seats behind home plate so he had a better view of Logan in the field. The pair even waved to each other.
"When he first got diagnosed, the first thing he asked the doctor was, 'Am I going to be around long enough to see my son get his first big-league hit?'" Logan said.
"I remember being devastated. It just showed me how much I meant to him and what he thought about life. I think that his life was to make mine better ... he got to fulfill his dream and that feels good."
Tom Morrison, a Coast Guard officer, said he had stopped trying to figure out why he contracted such an aggressive form of cancer. Even during Tom's final days, he encouraged Logan to work out in preparation for spring training that opens next month.
After the camp ends this weekend, Morrison plans to stay in Jupiter to continue his workouts. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 18 and position players will join them in the team's first full-squad workout Feb. 22.
While All-Stars Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson remain the faces of the franchise, as well as two of the top players in the game, the Marlins will be looking for their three standout rookies in 2010 -- Morrison, Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton -- to keep producing in 2011.
Despite playing first base most of his professional career, Morrison, a 22nd-round pick in 2005, feels comfortable and confident in left field.
"It's a learning process and I realize I only have a handful of games in the outfield," Morrison said. "They are not expecting me to make the great plays, but I expect it."
At the moment, however, Morrison's focus is on this weekend's camp.
Morrison also plans to repeat his father's words of advice that he gave to him as a youth to campers. And if campers look closely enough, they will probably see a gold chain that Morrison wears around his neck. The chain, a gift from his girlfriend, has his father's initials and the phrase "Forever in my heart" on the back.
"It's going to be about how baseball is a game of life, that you are going to fail more than you succeed and it's how you deal with those failures and move on so you can be successful," Morrison said.
"I will tell them to go out and play hard and hustle. Plus, it's also about not taking anything for granted and making the most of each and every day. Life is really short."
Morrison, when it comes to lung cancer, knows the statistics by memory.
For more information on Morrison's camp, email: email@example.com