I went to a game during the 2011 season when the Giants were hosting the Washington Nationals.
I got to AT&T Park early and I stood out in left field with my glove hoping to catch something. I positioned myself a little over halfway up the bleachers; I figured it was the perfect spot. Most batting practice homers are going to go there, and if they’re short, it might hit off someone’s hands and bounce to me. I didn’t think that anything was going to go over me.
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I didn’t know who this one Nationals’ hitter was, but I was hoping he had some pop.
He started off by hitting a couple of line drives.
Then a deep fly ball that reached the warning track.
Then the bombs.
One after the other, he hit shots that went way over my head. After he hit his first few I thought: “There’s no way this is sustainable; he can’t keep doing this.” I thought I was still in a great position.
But he kept going. He was practically clearing the bleachers.
I was so stubborn that I never moved. “Who is this guy?” I asked my uncle.
Neither of us knew who he was, but I was able to see his number. I looked him up: Michael Morse.
As I’m sure you can infer, I didn’t get a ball that day. But I was now very intrigued with Morse. He had so much raw power. “We could use a guy like that,” I thought. Sure enough, he hit a home run that game, confirming his power and furthering my (ir)rational love of him.
When the Giants signed him last offseason, a friend of mine asked:”What do you think about the move?” Immediately, I told her I loved it.
Objectively, I really did think it was a good move. He could platoon in left and maybe hit 15 home runs. Personally, I was ecstatic. Over the course of a few years, Morse had become this mysterious, lumberjack-type figure to me. In my mind, this dude was like the right-handed Barry Bonds.
Morse got off on the right foot, winning the fans over. He hit .302 with six homers in April and March. Looking at Morse’s splits, he was actually pretty consistent all season except for June, when the whole team forgot how to play baseball.
But when we look back at Morse’s short Giants career, we’re not really going to think about his regular season. Sure, his home run against the San Diego Padres was pretty great—you know which one. His bromance with Hunter Pence is right up there with the Burrell/Huff baseball rom-com. But it was his postseason that will forever be etched into the minds and hearts of Giants fans.
After being hampered by injuries and missing pretty much the entire month of September, everything was going poorly for Morse at the wrong time. But the fans still loved him. And Bruce Bochy still believed in him. And when it meant most, he produced.
That Game 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals was just magical. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Travis Ishikawa‘s Bobby Thomson impression, but that would not have been possible without Morse. Bochy sent Morse to pinch hit against the unhittable Pat Neshek with one goal in mind: hit it out.
Morse wasn’t up there to draw a walk or hit a single, he was up there to tie the game. And tie the game he did.
For most players, that’s enough. That’s a significant, career-defining, satisfactory playoff moment. But Morse wasn’t done. Not at all. Over the instant-classic seven-game series with the Kansas City Royals, Morse racked up four RBI; two of them coming in the deciding game. Morse is up there with the Edgar Renterias and Marco Scutaros of the world, knocking in the winning run in the Fall Classic.
A base hit to right field secured him his first championship in his 10 year career.
Morse received his ring yesterday and it was as awesome as you could have imagined. The entire team stepped out of the dugout and waited as Larry Baer and Bochy handed him his jewelry. As the crowd gave him a well-deserved ovation, Pence followed Baer and Bochy and hugged Morse. They were reunited.
Then the rest of the team came. And that was awesome too (maybe a little too awesome for one Matt Cain). All while “A-ha” played in the background.
Michael Morse is a Giant. He will forever be a Giant. The fans here love him and it’s pretty obvious he loves them back. As much as the Giants needed Morse, Morse needed the Giants. Even though it was just one season, it was incredible.
In a way, Morse did more for Giants fans than you may realize. At least for me, he eased my disdain for the number “38.” The reception Giants fans gave him and his professionalism and high-praise of the organization is heart-warming, especially after all of the garbage we’ve all had to endure.
So, Michael Morse, we thank you. Thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for your energy. Thank you for your perseverance. Thank you for your memorable performances. Thank you for giving us everything you had.
And for that, we give you the best that we can offer: a ring and baseball immortality as a World Series champion.