William Harold Morris III (born April 9, 1965) is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the Cincinnati Reds. From 2012 until 2016, he was the director of professional scouting for the Los Angeles Angels.
High school and college career
Morris attended Munster High School in Munster, Indiana, and the University of Michigan. Morris captained the tennis, basketball, and baseball teams in his senior season at Munster. He was an Indiana All Star in 1983, and was named the MVP of the annual North-South All Star Game in Jasper, Indiana, where he went 8-9 in the series. His Michigan teams won the Big 10 Championship in 1984 and 1986, and advanced to the College World Series in 1984. Morris set records for slugging percentage and batting average while at Michigan. His teammates at Michigan included future Major League players Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, Jim Abbott, Mike Ignasiak, and Gary Wayne].
Major League career
Morris played for the New York Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds, the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers. Morris was known for his unusual hitting technique, in which his feet never settled as the pitcher delivered the ball, so his swing was preceded by his feet shuffling towards the plate. Morris was not known for his power, but he had the ability to spray the ball to all corners of the ballpark. He also appeared on the cover of Wheaties.
New York Yankees
Morris was selected by the New York Yankees in the eighth round of the 1986 amateur draft. He was named the Rookie of the Year in the New York Penn League in 1986, set an Albany-Colony Yankees record for hits in a season in 1987, was second in the International League in hitting in 1988, then led the International League in hitting in 1989 at .326. He debuted with the Yankees on July 29, 1988 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. He collected a base hit in his first at bat, a single to left field against Toronto reliever Duane Ward.
On December 12, 1989. Morris was traded, along with Rodney Imes to the Cincinnati Reds with pitcher Tim Leary and outfielder Van Snyder. The trade proved beneficial for the Reds as Morris was a part of the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, which won the World Series. He hit .340 on the year, which, at the time, was the third highest batting average by a rookie in 50 years. Also, his 136 OPS+ led the team. His sacrifice fly in game 4 turned out to be the series-winning RBI.
While the Reds failed to repeat their Wold Series win in 1991, Morris had another strong season, finishing one point behind Atlanta's Terry Pendleton in the battle for the National League hitting crown. Morris ended the year at .318, while Pendleton finished at .319.
Until Casey McGehee failed to make the All Star team in 2014, Morris had been the last player to be leading his league in hits at the All Star break and not do so. In 1994, Morris was hitting .358 with 120 hits at the All Star break, but was not selected to the team.
On November 2, 1995, Morris became a free agent but was resigned bu the Reds on December 6, 1995. Morris compiled a 32-game hitting streak from August 26, 1996 to April 3, 1997. This streak is the longest by a first baseman in the modern era of Major League baseball. His .319 average at Riverfront Stadium was the highest by any Reds player in the history of the stadium.
Morris was again granted free agency on October 29, 1997, signing with Kansas City in December of that year. He stayed with Kansas City for one year, before again becoming a free agent.
Morris re-sgined with the Reds, playing the 1999 season with them and part of the 2000 season.
Morris was sold to the Tigers on July 18, 2000 and played with the for the rest of the season. Since 1961—the start of Major League Baseball's Expansion Era—Hal Morris and Derek Jeter are the only players with a minimum of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues who collected a game-ending RBI in their final home game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Morris did it with the Tigers with a pinch-hit single on Oct. 1, 2000, giving his team a 12-11 win over the Twins, while Jeter hit a game winning single against the Orioles in his final appearance at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2014. For Morris, this was the final at bat of his career.
Morris was declared a free agent on November 1, 2000 and he retired.
After retiring, Morris continued his education by graduating with an MBA from Stanford University. Morris has been involved in a variety of real estate and technology ventures, and has been an advisor to Montara Capital Partners, a boutique private equity firm focused on 1031 exchange and tax advantaged real estate transactions. Before joining the Angels in November 2011, he was a professional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates for two seasons and the Boston Red Sox for one (2011). His brother, Bobby, played professional baseball between 1993 and 2001. Morris served as the pro scouting director for the Los Angles Angeles from 2011-2016.