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Morris with the St. Louis Cardinals
|Born: August 9, 1974|
Middletown, New York
|June 4, 1997, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|April 26, 2008, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Earned run average||3.98|
|Career highlights and awards|
Morris was born in Middletown, New York, the youngest of three children of George, a Vietnam War veteran and Local 580 ironworker, and Diane Morris. Both of his sisters played softball for the Wagner College Seahawks.
Morris moved to nearby Montgomery, New York at thirteen years old where he played baseball at Valley Central High School. After a strong performance while trying out at the Empire State Games, he was converted from an infielder to a pitcher. He was selected in the 25th round of the 1992 Major League Baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers but chose instead to attend Seton Hall University and play college baseball for the Pirates under head coach Mike Sheppard.
He was drafted 12th overall in the June 1995 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Morris pitched in the minor leagues in 1996 and 1997. In 1996, led the Texas League with 4 shutouts while pitching for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers and led all Cardinal minor league pitchers with 175 innings pitched. In 1997, he reached the majors after only one game at Triple-A Louisville. In his first season, he won 12 games with a 3.19 ERA and finished tied for second in the Rookie of the Year voting, behind Scott Rolen.
In 1999, he underwent Tommy John surgery after he was injured in spring training. Morris became the ace of the Cardinals' pitching staff in 2001, earning his first All-Star selection and a 3rd-place finish in the NL Cy Young voting. He won 22 games with 185 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA. In 2002, he won 17 games and made his second All-Star appearance.
In 2004, Morris signed a one-year contract after he won 15 games on a Cardinals team that made the World Series. In 2004, he lost 10 games for the first time in his career and had a 4.72 ERA, also a career high.
Morris underwent surgery during the 2004/2005 off-season and started the season 8–0 with a 3.16 ERA, and was 10–2 with a 3.10 ERA at the time of the All-Star break. In fact, he was considered by many[who?] to be snubbed for the All-Star game. Morris went 4–7 with a 5.55 ERA after the All-Star break. He was the number three starter for the Cardinals in the playoffs, behind ace Chris Carpenter, and Mark Mulder. He became the first winning pitcher in a postseason game at Petco Park when the Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres in Game 3 of the 2005 NLDS. In the thin free-agent market of the 2005/2006 off-season, Morris was touted as one of the best available pitchers.
Prior to the 2007 season, Morris changed his uniform number from 35, which he had worn for his entire career, to wear number 22 as a tribute to retired former teammate Mike Matheny. Rich Aurilia took the number 35 jersey.