Longform

Logan Morrison Serves as the Wild Child for the Already Loony Miami Marlins

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The answer, of course, was zero. "He was raw," Seitzer says of Logan, "but it was all there."

For 65 bucks a pop, Logan took weekly half-hour sessions with Seitzer. Then father and son crisscrossed the country entering Logan in tournaments, their Ford Excursion stuffed with baseball equipment. "That was the baseball-mobile," Logan says. "We still have it. There's about 265,000 miles on it."

Tom and Diane couldn't really afford the car, equipment, and classes. But Diane, an ultrasound technologist, worked overtime at the hospital, and Tom played an elaborate game of credit card monte.

When Logan was 16 and an elite hired gun on the travel ball circuit, Tom finagled a transfer to New Orleans so Logan could play high school ball in the vicinity of more baseball scouts. Logan wasn't happy to once again leave his friends. But it might come as a surprise to Marlins fans that he was no good at rebelling. The best he could do was get caught with alcohol at a Kenny Chesney concert in Mississippi.

After going All-State and batting .486 his senior year, Logan was drafted in the 22nd round by the Marlins in 2005. Because his parents were worried that the 17-year-old couldn't handle life on his own, he deferred to spend a year at Maple Woods Community College in Missouri, where he lived with his grandmother.

Even as a pro ballplayer scaling the minors, he never cut the umbilical cord. Because his parents had made sure he invested his $225,000 signing bonus, he often called to ask for financial help with his car insurance and wardrobe. When he made it to the Marlins' Triple-A team, the New Orleans Zephyrs, in 2010, Logan and teammate Scott Cousins lived at the Morrison home. Tom's bobbing fedora was a ubiquitous sight in the stands, and he would tail the team bus on road trips. If Logan went four-for-five, Tom would be in the clubhouse after the game, demanding answers about that fifth at-bat: Hey, why'd you swing at that slider in the dirt?

In April of that year, Tom — who had never smoked — was diagnosed with lung cancer. Logan happened to be at home with an injured shoulder, so he was in the oncologist's office when his dad got the news. Tom blurted, "Am I going to be around long enough to see my son get his first big-league hit?"

Logan wasn't terribly worried. He's too mean to die, he thought. That July, Tom watched from a computer as Logan wore a Marlins jersey and smacked a single to left at the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park. A month later, haggard and peeling from radiation, he took a 30-hour train trip to New York to watch his big-league son play in person, against the Mets.

Tom couldn't make it to the next baseball season. He died that December. Since then, Logan has channeled his dad. If a beat reporter asks him about a teammate he thinks is loafing, he'll tell it straight with no sugar. "I'm definitely my dad's son," Logan says. "I'm not going to change who I am."

"He was angry," Diane Morrison says of her son. "Here's this man who spent all of your life working with you to achieve this goal, and he's not there. Logan still misses his dad. He's still having issues. It's only been a little over a year. You don't get over something like that."


The next baseball season, Morrison introduced a Coast Guard salute into his home-run trot as a tribute to his dad. And he slammed seven of them in 2011's first two months while batting .320. But it didn't seem right to check into a Westin or a Hyatt after a road game and not immediately call his dad to dissect at-bats. "It all felt a little bit more empty," Morrison says.

Then came the clash with Loria, who is infamous for his meddling. Late in the 2006 season, Loria spent a game mocking an umpire from the stands until Manager Joe Girardi asked him to stop. Loria, who was reportedly furious at Girardi's gall, fired the skipper as soon as the season ended. Never mind that Girardi was named manager of the year six weeks later and went on to helm the Yankees to a championship in 2009.

So it was déjà vu in June of last year when Loria ordered the firing of popular hitting coach John Mallee, who had nine years in the organization. The move sparked turmoil in the locker room, not to mention an 11-game losing streak soon thereafter. "Not only LoMo but other players thought they were making a mistake," says Edwin Rodriguez, who was then manager.

Morrison was the only one to publicly criticize ownership for the firing. "They felt Mallee had to go," he remarked to beat writers. "I don't feel that way." When the Marlins' president of baseball operations, Larry Beinfest, advised Morrison to end the public criticism, the outfielder told reporters about that too.

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Gus Garcia-Roberts