Matt Morris, who has been active in the community since reaching the Majors 10 years ago, now plans to emulate one of his former teammate's philanthropic model.
The Pirates' veteran starter and his wife, Heather, would like to build a camp where underprivileged kids and their families can go for a respite -- an idea that Scott Rolen has brought to fruition through his Enis Furley Foundation and Camp Emma Lou.
"Eventually we're going to set up a camp for underprivileged kids to just get away from their lives for a while, enjoy the outdoors and be happy," Morris said. "We had talked about it. It seems like something right up our alley. (Rolen's) been an influence on my part."
Morris, soft-spoken but firm in his beliefs, has a variety of causes to which he donates his efforts. The list has kept him and Heather busy since they married early in 2002.
While with the Cardinals, Morris taped public service announcements for such cases as National Night Out Against Crime (on behalf of the St. Louis Police Dept.) and the American Red Cross Blood Drive. In San Francisco, Morris taped a PSA for the Strike Out Cancer Program, in which the Genentech Foundation donated $2,000 to Wellness Community for every Giants strikeout during the 2006 season.
But any program involving children will attract the couple's attention, and the support of a foundation Morris set up early in his career. As a member of the Pirates, some of his focus will undoubtedly be on Pittsburgh-area causes.
In San Francisco, Matt and Heather delivered teddy bears to children at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University, a tradition started during visits to St. Louis Children's Hospital. Morris was also is a member of San Francisco Action Team, a national youth volunteer initiative administered by the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Volunteers of America, actively recruiting the next generation of volunteers.
The Morrises can provide first-hand lessons in volunteerism, particularly to help children.
"The game affords you so much," Morris said. "To be able to help kids -- underprivileged kids, kids who are terminally ill -- it just allows you to make their lives a little better, either bringing them to ballgames or helping them financially through our foundation.
"We're not here to shout about what we do. It's not for anyone's gratification but the kids'. Kids that suffer are usually not having fun. Families are not having fun. It's not a good time in their life. I just hope to bring them some kind of happiness in any way -- whether it's bringing them to the ballpark or receiving a ball or bat signed by somebody. The goal is to get their mind off what's going on at that point. It's not a long-term fix, just something to help out in the time being."
Heather Morris is sensitive to health issues in her own right. Her mother died from a brain tumor, and a foundation in her name was set up at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
"We support a lot of foundations," Morris said. "I have some ideas and she brought new things to the table."
Sounds like a team.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.