Morgan plays hero

Nyjer Morgan (left) as a member of the Nelson Junior A Leafs in the team photo from the 1997-98 season. - Submitted
Nyjer Morgan (left) as a member of the Nelson Junior A Leafs in the team photo from the 1997-98 season.
— image credit: Submitted

Former Nelson Junior Leaf Nyjer Morgan’s romp through the Major League Baseball post-season continues.

Friday night the Milwaukee Brewers centrefielder poked a 10th inning single through the infield in the fifth and deciding game of the National League Division Series to win the game for his team.

“Nyjer got the biggest hit of his life,” Brewers teammate Ryan Braun told media after the game.

“One of the biggest hits in Brewers history.”

Morgan played for the Junior Leafs during the 1997-98 season when the local team was part of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League.

At the time the California native was 16 and arrived to the Kootenays to immerse himself in Canadian hockey culture.

He played one season with the Leafs and his former coaches described him as a blazing fast winger with plenty of energy who liked to mix it up on the ice.

From Nelson, Morgan went on to play Junior A in North Okanagan and Delta. In his final season of junior hockey, Morgan managed to crack a WHL roster with the Regina Pats.

After his detour into hockey, Morgan returned to baseball where he attended Walla Walla Community College in Washington state, played five years in the minors and four years ago made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Morgan’s clutch Friday night single is just one more chapter in an incredible season for the 31-year-old. Since signing with Milwaukee at the start of this season, Morgan has become one of baseball’s most colourful and controversial characters.

With his alter-ego Tony Plush, Morgan has captured a catalogue of national media attention. From the cover of Sports Illustrated to the sports talk airwaves, the attention on Morgan is intense and not always for the right reasons.

Earlier this season Morgan continued his feud with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter. Morgan was responsible for sparking the benches to empty during one memorable at-bat. And it’s now Carpenter and the Cardinals who stand in the way of Milwaukee’s shot at the World Series.

“It’s like Carp,” Brewers rightfielder Corey Hart told reporter Adam McCalvy, referring to Carpenter. “He’s not a very liked guy because of how he is [on the field], but his teammates might love him. Over here, there is a lot of negativity when you play against [Morgan], but when he’s on your team, you love him. You realize how hard he works, and how his antics have a purpose. He gets us going. He gets our energy level high.”

The best-of-seven National League Championship series started Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee. The Brewers took a 1-0 series lead with a 9-6 victory. Morgan did not start the game, but came in late as pinch hitter.

On Monday night the Cardinals knotted the series at 1-1 with a 12-3 win. Morgan started the game, but struggled at the plate going 0-3 and dropped two catches in the outfield.

The series continues with three straight games in St. Louis starting tonight.


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