Hartland’s Brian Morrison to join Baseball Coaching Hall of Fame mentors
Brian Morrison thought his potential as a baseball player beyond college was limited.
“I loved playing, but I was also 5-8 so I knew it was going to end at some point,” he said.
Morrison’s playing days came to an end after two seasons as a pitcher at Concordia University when he decided his best path to a long baseball career was coaching.
It was in this role that Morrison found his place, making Hartland one of the best programs in the state for 17 years as coach of the Eagles.
His accomplishments at Hartland saw him be inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Morrison and other members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be honored in a ceremony on June 28 at Comerica Park as part of the East-West All-Star Baseball Classic. The induction ceremony and match were canceled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s really special,” he said. “Lots of guys that’s already there or even some of the guys I’m going to come in with, I got to know, learned from some of these guys when I was a young coach and asked some of these guys questions – It’s quite special to be included in this group.
Three Hall of Fame coaches Morrison chose for their guidance during his early years were Brighton’s Mark Carrow, Grand Ledge’s Pat O’Keefe and Adrian’s Greg Jackson. Between them, these coaches won 2,690 matches.
Morrison would join Carrow, inducted in 1992, as Livingston County’s only Hall of Fame coaches.
“I admired the way they ran their business,” Morrison said. “They were more than happy to answer all of my questions and always treated me with respect.”
One of the men who inspired Morrison to become a coach was another Hall of Fame inductee, Norm Hoenes of Westland John Glenn. Hoenes, inducted in 1996, was Morrison’s high school coach.
“It’s probably about my last year of high school when I realized that at some point you’re not going to play anymore,” Morrison said. “I had great coaches when I was in high school. I kind of wanted to follow in their footsteps, I guess.
Morrison came to Hartland to coach football before becoming a junior college baseball coach in 2001. He was named college head coach the following year, starting a 17-year run in which his teams went 458-179. .
The Eagles have never had a losing season under his leadership, although they did come closer in 2015. Hartland was 13-14 late in the regular season, but all those narrow losses early in the year came to a head. are balanced in the state tournament.
Hartland had four single-run wins, including two in extra innings, in a seven-game streak that culminated in the only state championship on the program. The Eagles played 13 innings against Lakeland in the District Championship game and 10 innings with Portage Northern in the State Finals.
“It’s been eight to ten one-point games, if they go the other way, our record is a lot better,” said Morrison. “We didn’t realize it at the time, but we realized afterwards that we were pretty good. We just started getting keys and we were just playing. Our pitchers were throwing strikes. You don’t give anything to anyone.
The Eagles have also won five regional championships and 10 district championships with Morrison as their coach. He has been voted Regional Coach of the Year 11 times and Regional Coach of the Year five times.
He was nominated for the Hall of Fame by one of his assistant coaches, Aaron Bell.
It was Bell who took over the team for the 2019 season when Morrison was dismissed from his coaching duties after allegedly “roughing up” a student during a gym class. The decision was upheld, despite a wave of support from players and other community members at a school board meeting.
Morrison moved from high school to Farms Intermediate School, a fifth and sixth grade building in the Hartland district. Because the school day later ends at Farms, it is difficult for Morrison to return to training.
“It would be one of those things where I’m just going to go day to day and see what’s going on,” he said. “It’s a big building I’m in, but the hours don’t work early enough to contribute somewhere. If I coach, I’m not the type to do it 50%. Either I’ll be there all the time or I won’t.
Contact Bill Khan at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BillKhan.