Jerry Morales

February 5, 2019

Jerry Morales

Kingdom Come


Tonight instead of watching the State of the Union address I looked for my father and for Jerry Morales’s basket catch. First I skimmed some of the emails my father sent me, each including a few words from him at most and then a link to sobering news. Sometimes it was just a link. I didn’t read the whole articles tonight, just as I hadn’t when he’d first sent them to me. Still, fragments lodged somewhere in my brain.

. . . rate of climate change now may be as fast as any extended warming period over the past 65 million years, and it is projected to accelerate in the coming decades . . .

. . . abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes in the earth’s climate system with massively disruptive impacts . ..

. . . the continuing acidification of the oceans (killing off the basis of the food web: coral, phytoplankton and shellfish) and more climate disruptions, an increased number of hotter days and extreme weather events . . .

. . . loss of polar ice, leading to sea level rise . . . will threaten the existence of low-lying island nations as well as major cities . . .

. . . mass extinctions . . .

I turned to a search for Jerry Morales’s basket catch. It’s what he was known for. He’s not the only player to ever use the basket catch—two immortals, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente, also used it, for example—but Jerry Morales doesn’t have a whole lot else to fix him in time, so it seems like a bigger deal for him. I figured that everything is available now, digitally, that nothing is ever fully blown to kingdom come, but the truth is some things are just gone. All there is are some words, some memories.

There are no photos or videos of Jerry Morales making a basket catch, at least not that I could find. I took a few different angles in my search, Googling various combinations of his name and “basket catch.” At some point, I Googled Jerry Morales’s hometown, Yabucoa, and “baseball.” I learned that Yabucoa was hit the hardest of any place in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. I found a before and after photo of the Yabucoa baseball stadium. I gave up on Jerry Morales’s basket catch and turned back to searching for my father. I read some of a note he scrawled with a pen in tiny handwriting on note paper and folded into a book he was reading.

It is clear that the capitalist world system is coming to an end. The only question is whether the transformation to another system can be realized through a collectively democratic, pragmatic, gradual process resulting finally in the constitution of a democratic world system or in catastrophic destruction, possibly leading to the end of humanity.



  1. Took me a while of searching full games on YouTube featuring his teams and comparing the retrosheet boxscore to find fly outs to him. Found some from ’81 but he made catches normally. But then, I searched “Tigers 1979,” and the first game that came up was Disco Demolition Night! Morales played, and sure enough, made a couple of basket catches. On one, he nearly gets hit with a flying not the first to land on the field that night. Here are the direct links to his two catches:

  2. The 1978 Cubs are right in my baseball wheelhouse. And the Disco Demolition night footage is a real treat.

  3. This is awesome, Jere. Thank you so much for finding this. It looks like the two links are bringing up the whole game. I see on baseball-reference that the first fly ball to Morales is in the bottom of the third. I’m going to take a closer look soon, and actually I’m just going to watch the whole game on repeat for the rest of the winter. I’ve watched the first inning, and can see that one of the factors in this being an absolute masterpiece of an artifact is the slow awareness on the part of Carey and Piersall that this is not just any game.

  4. It is not a basket catch, but here is one of his nice catches to rob Johnny Bench.

  5. I remember an old WGN radio commercial that used to run during Cub games. I don’t remember the sponsor (maybe Vienna Beef?), but the gist of the commercial was that Willie Hernandez (still a mediocre Cub reliever at the time, before his Tigers glory days) was being interviewed, but didn’t speak English, so Jerry Morales was brought in as an interpreter. The interviewer asks a question, Willie gives a long answer in Spanish, the interviewer asks Jerry what Willie said, and Jerry says, “He say, ‘Jerry Morales is the best hitter in baseball.'” The interviewer, incredulous, says, “Really? That’s not what it sounded like.” “Oh yes,” Jerry says. “That’s what he say, ‘Jerry Morales is the best hitter in baseball.'” Every Cub fan got the joke, since even in his best year (1977, when he was a very unlikely All Star) he hit .290 but only had 11 HR and 69 RBI. A good year, but hardly the best in baseball.

  6. I did do the “copy link to current time” for both of those, but they’re doing something weird. I should just film each play on my phone and make them isolated vids. (Wouldn’t be any more illegal than the person who put the entire game up.)

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