DISABILITIES

By Daniel J. Vance

 

Sarah Morris likely has a soft spot in her heart for those Los Angeles Dodgers not blessed with natural physical ability, the ones who must continually practice to stay employed.

By no means was she blessed naturally. If you read the latest Reader's Digest, you know she can't talk intelligibly, can't walk, can't use her hands, can't brush her teeth, and can't comb her hair. And yet, through persistence and hard work, she has become the nation's hottest baseball journalist, posting a steady flow of columns on www.dodgers.com and www.dodgerplace.com.

"I get my Dodger information from the Internet and television broadcasts," she said to me last week in an email, her primary communication method. "Right now I am trying to convince my (Dodgers website) boss to allow me to conduct interviews with players via email."

She and her mother live a short horseshoe toss from Anderson, Texas, an hour drive from Houston. She was her high school baseball team's statistician when the sport hooked her.

The 32-year-old ex-Californian now pecks "L-o-s A-n-g-e-l-e-s D-o-d-g-e-r-s" onto a computer keyboard by using a pointer that extends out from a device strapped to her forehead. When she's really flying she types eight words per minute. Her editorial tomes and game-by-game breakdowns are posted on her website or emailed to the Dodgers'.

Along with nearly 500,000 other Americans, she has a form of cerebral palsy. Hers was caused at birth by an umbilical cord wrapped around her shoulders that blocked oxygen flow; others develop theirs in the womb or after birth. Her mind has no problem thinking, and her heart, feeling; it's her brain-to-muscle connection that causes all the problems.

But boy can she write well and does so 55 hours weekly. She doesn't use the spiffiest adjectives and adverbs, nor does she seem to stir up controversy for its own sake. Her strong suits are convictions drawn by innocence and her loyalty to a baseball team she absolutely adores. It could be said that journalist Sarah Morris has Dodger blue blood.

Since the Reader's Digest article authored by Los Angeles Times sports writer Bill Plaschke, she has received daily about 30 emails and 50 guestbook postings on her website. "All of the response has been positive," she said.

As if anyone would give baseball's best loved journalist bad press.

For more information also try United Cerebral Palsy at www.ucpa.org.

[Contact Mr. Vance at www.danieljvance.com]