Hank Morrison taking love of the game as far as he can

Hank Morrison eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball.

He’ll tell you that himself.

“Baseball is everything to me,” said Morrison, a former Warren Area High School District 10 and Region 8 all-star, who played on Warren’s first district title team in 2012 in 35 years. “There is not a better feeling than being able to play the game of baseball.”

With a love of the game like that, it’s not surprising Morrison is currently thriving as a first baseman for the Hornell (N.Y) Dodgers of the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL).

The NYCBL is a summer baseball league made up of elite collegiate baseball players throughout the country. Morrison is currently leading the league with 47 RBI, while hitting .354 with 12 doubles, three triples, and two homers. The Dodgers, who were led by Morrison in every offensive category, had a league-best record of 38-8 and are currently competing in the league playoffs. Morrison was also named NYCBL Player of the Week for the week of July 21-27.

Morrison, who will be entering his junior year at Division II Mercyhurst University, has also had success at the collegiate level. As the starting first baseman for the Lakers in 2014, Morrison hit .322 with three doubles, two triples, three homers, and 33 RBI.

The success Morrison is having hasn’t come out of nowhere. He’s worked at it for a long, long time. He’s had some help – both in skill and in passion.

“The relationship between me and my dad is very special,” said Hank. “My dad gets a ton of credit for where I’m at today in baseball. Throwing a million pitches to me is just the half of it. He never gives up on me and is always there to keep my mind focused on the right things.”

Ted Morrison still plays baseball for the Jamestown Oldtimers over-50 baseball club.

“Hank and I have been throwing and hitting ever since he could swing a Wiffle Ball bat at the age of four,” said Ted. “Countless hours of batting, fielding and throwing have made him into the player he is. He was always waiting for me to come home from work so we could go and get his workout in. His sister Megan and his mom (Amy) also spent countless hour chasing balls for him. We are a baseball and softball family.”

Hank was an all-region selection as a senior third baseman at Warren, and was the winning pitcher in Warren’s 2-0 victory over Cathedral Prep in the 2012 District 10 championship game. Moving to the collegiate level meant learning a new position: first base. It also meant making other, and bigger, adjustments.

“The toughest part about the transition from high school to college is definitely the curveball,” said Hank. “Not only that, everyone on the team is at the same level, so it’s a constant battle to get playing time each year.”

After getting to Mercyhurst, Hank “put on about 20 to 25 pounds from being on a good weight lifting program” according to his mother Amy. Adding that much muscle allowed Hank to add pop to his bat and also made him faster on the base paths.

Hank had to make another adjustment this summer when he decided to play in the NYCBL. Instead of living at home this summer like a normal college student, he lived with a host family in Hornell.

“He (Hank) has a fantastic host family of Dave, Debi, Natalie, Dan, and Erin Crosby,” said Ted. “They have made it a smooth transition and made it possible for him to relax, just as if he were at home here in Warren.”

Hornell’s roster is made up of players from nine states, as well as a player from Canada and a player from Curacao. The friendships Hank has formed with these players has aided his success, according to his parents.

“Hank has become good friends with fellow teammates from all over,” Ted said. “They feed off of each other and challenge each other daily whether that be exercising at the YMCA in Hornell or at the ball field.”

Hank’s mother Amy agreed.

“This has been one of the most amazing experiences Hank has had,” she said. “From the lasting relationship he has formed with his host family to the friendships and bonds he has made with his teammates from all over the United States, Canada, and Curacao. He thanks us every day for this opportunity and he knows that God is with him every time he steps on that field. He has a very strong faith.”

Hank has two years of eligibility left at Mercyhurst, as well as another year in the NYCBL if he elects to play there again.

“My ultimate dream is to one day play professional baseball,” Hank said. “But it would be an extreme honor if I even got drafted.”

Morrison’s dream is not far-fetched. The NYCBL has numerous alumni playing in the MLB, including All-Stars Hunter Pence, who played for Schenectady, N.Y., and Tim Hudson, who played for the same team as Hank, the Hornell Dodgers. Hank’s success has not gone unnoticed, as he has begun filling out scouting forms for MLB teams.

“Words cannot express the gratification of seeing Hank grow throughout the years and succeed at this level,” Ted said. “I would say that I am the luckiest father in the world to be able to do what I have done throughout the years; being a father, teacher, coach, and best friend to my family of Meg, Hank, and Amy. We are truly blessed. God is great. To all you Little Leaguers out there, continue to believe in yourself. Don’t give up. Your field of dreams is just around the corner.”