It had been nearly a year since Logan Morrison played his last major-league game when he was told on Wednesday that the Phillies were calling him up.
Morrison played 959 major-league games before spending the first five months of the season in triple A with the Phillies and Yankees. His time away made him appreciate the little things: the sight of the field from the dugout, the ballpark’s third deck of seats, and even the way the lights glistened at Citizens Bank Park at night.
“Triple-A lights aren’t as great, you know,” Morrison said Thursday before the series finale with the Cubs.
Wednesday’s arrival to the park brought sentimentality, but it could not have been as memorable as the way Morrison rolled to Citizens Bank Park in September 2011. Morrison, then in Philadelphia as a visitor with the Marlins, rode to the ballpark in the back of a fire truck from a South Philly firehouse. Morrison’s father served in the Coast Guard with the station’s battalion chief.
“That was pretty cool,” Morrison said. “There were sirens. I got to sit in the way back, too. Got dropped off at the players’ entrance.”
Morrison’s arrival on the fire truck was another chapter in his strange connection to Philadelphia as a fan favorite despite being an opposing player. Phillies fans embraced Morrison when he was breaking into the big leagues even though he played for the Marlins.
When Morrison reached the majors in 2010, the Phillies were in the thick of their glory years and a large segment of the fan base was active on Twitter, which was just emerging as a social network. Morrison happened to be active, too. Phillies fans found him.
“Yeah, they wanted to trade for me. They didn’t really care if I was good at baseball,” Morrison said of the fans. “I just interacted with them and they were pretty active on it and I just interacted back with them.”
Morrison even did an autograph signing in Havertown when he was in town with the Marlins, something he said he never did in Miami. He was more popular in South Philly than he was in South Florida. The day he rode to the ballpark on a fire truck, Morrison ate lunch at Nick’s Roast Beef and toured South Philly with his father’s friend.
“People were like ‘What’s up LoMo? How you doing? Have a beer with us.’ I’m drinking PBR with someone on their porch,” Morrison said. “The experiences that I’ve had in Philly, I kind of already know my way around. They have a unique and different fan base in more good ways than they get credit for. They really do care. I think it’s way better than places I’ve been where they don’t care at all.”
Morrison arrived Wednesday at the Phillies clubhouse wearing a Vince Papale Eagles Jersey. He returned Thursday to Nick’s Roast Beef. He even tried to see if his dad’s friend could arrange for a police escort from the airport on Wednesday. But he had no luck.
The first baseman will likely return soon to triple A, but his contract allows him to stay on the 40-man roster after being sent down. It is almost a certainty that Morrison will be back in September when rosters expand. The Phillies, if they are in a playoff race, could use his left-handed power off the bench. Already a fan favorite, Morrison will be playing this time for the home team.