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Rookie first baseman has all the write stuff



Published: Tue, July 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Rickie Morton foresees a future in writing, not baseball.

By KATIE BALESTRA

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

NILES -- A minor league baseball player who would rather write children's books than hit line drives into the outfield?

That sounds like a rarity, but for Scrappers first baseman Rickie Morton, it's a reality.

After earning his bachelor's degree in English at Pacific University, Morton, 22, went straight to minor league baseball, being selected in the 25th round of the draft.

Morton is a newcomer to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers this year and is one of the most promising members of the team.

He's tied for first place in the league in home runs. But this is no change for Morton, who led his college in home runs during their 2000 season.

Improving: Scrappers manager Dave Turgeon said Morton has been steadily improving his hitting since he came to the team.

"Rickie's learning how to hit. He has a plan when he gets in the box. He's learning how to relax," Turgeon said. "He's learned to get his pitch. He's just not up there free swinging anymore.

"As a result, he's putting the ball in play with good, hard contact. He's much better than he was a month ago."

While Morton's hitting has changed, his opinions on baseball and writing haven't.

Morton says his future lies with writing, not baseball. He doesn't even follow the major leagues, saying, "I get enough of it here."

What he really wants to do is write books for children.

"I like to write children's books in my spare time, and I'd like to write in the off-season," he said. "I read a few of the books I've written to first-graders in my hometown."

Adjusting to the area: As for the change of going from Sacramento to the Mahoning Valley, Morton is still getting used to everything.

"There really isn't much to do here, although sometimes you're so tired and you just want to go home and go to sleep," he said.

Even though there isn't exactly a set time for practice, there are games every night. Morton said it is "very taxing on the body."

Morton said the fans in the Mahoning Valley are very enthusiastic and the facilities are the best.

"These fans are awesome. They show great support for us. And the facilities here are wonderful," he said. "If there is something we don't have that we need, they get it for us."




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