Rebel’s cause was his players

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

Gill Morris was cushier than the Pillsbury Doughboy.

He had a job in administration, a respectable salary, an office with a view, a personal secretary &045; amenities that scream stability until they serve up your pension, an AARP card, a watch and a rocking chair.

Why would Morris want to leave his Natchez High athletic director’s post five years after stepping down as the Bulldogs’ head baseball coach? The answer was simple and two-fold when Adams Christian came calling before the summer of 2000.

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One was Morris’ undying love affair for the game &045; something off a romance novel cover. The second, perhaps foremost, was his loyalty to players, especially AC’s 2001 freshman class who were surrogate children to Morris.

&uot;The bottom line is I’ll always stand up for them,&uot; said Morris, who announced his resignation after four seasons as the Rebels’ skipper. &uot;There’s something about baseball and competition. The sound of a bat, watching an umpire ring up a strike three &045; it’s music to my ears. I don’t think it’ll ever leave me. Once you’re in, it never leaves.&uot;

Morris’ four years at the MPSA AAA school brought 69 victories, three winning seasons, two 20-plus-win years and a pair of state final appearances, which was two more than the school ever boasted in its history (the 1972 ACCS team made it to the AA final against Old Hickory, Tenn., Academy).

The Rebels finished as AAA runner-ups in Morris’ inaugural and valedictory seasons, losing to Indianola Academy in 2001 and Jackson Prep just last week.

&uot;It’s quite remarkable what he accomplished with the hand that was dealt to him,&uot; said John Mark Williams, father of Glenn Williams, an MPSA All-Star for the Rebels in this his senior year. &uot;He had a big impact on Glenn’s mental approach. You’ve gotta be thinking two pitches ahead. It’s more than just going out there and swinging a bat or throwing a ball.&uot;

Morris, who submitted his letter of resignation to Adams Christian headmaster John R. Gray at the end of April, chose retirement so he could watch son Jamie &045; AC’s starting shortstop this past season.

He will remain as an AC faculty member, continuing to teach his bread-and-butter U.S. history and global studies courses, while embarking on a Natchez antebellum history class that has already piqued the curiosity of more than 30 prospective students.

&uot;Baseball is a big part of my life. It’s time to go, though,&uot; Morris said, although not entirely ruling out another return some day. &uot;I look forward to being a teacher at AC. But when that seventh-period bell rings and I see those kids trudging down to the diamond, part of me is gonna ache.&uot;

He admitted he won’t pull a Houdini or a Copperfield, though. If a kid comes up in September, when new head coach Ron Rushing is tied up with football, asking for a little B.P. or to work on mechanics, Morris will oblige, albeit if it means that player running a bit.

Turning pages is never easy for a history buff.

Chuck Corder

is a sports writer for The Natchez Democrat. You can reach him at (601) 445-3633 or by e-mail at