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High socks, good times for Morgan

By JOHN LEMBO

jlembo@bradenton.com

He does it to emulate his favorite player, right?

No.

He does it so his fans can spot him from any seat in the ballpark, right?

No.

He does it to stick it to an old coach, right? Or because his ankles swell if they get too hot?

Or because chicks dig knee-highs?

No, no and no.

(Though we made need to double check that last one...)

Want to know why Nyjer Morgan wears his pants as if he’s striving to be an extra in an updated version of “Field of Dreams”?

“I do it because I like it, honestly,” he said. “That’s mainly why I do it.”

Morgan is on track to start the 2009 season in left field for the Pittsburgh Pirates — though even those who couldn’t find left field with a scorecard and a compass would have no trouble finding Morgan during a regular afternoon at McKechnie Field.

He’s the one with his pants rolled up to his knees, giving everyone a glimpse of his black stirrups. Morgan has been doing this since his days at Walla Walla College in Washington, where he played junior-college ball.

There are some reasons behind it. The old-school look is Morgan’s way of paying homage to those who came before him, especially the forgotten players of the Negro Leagues.

And Morgan’s favorite player, outfielder Juan Pierre, also wears his pants in preparation for a flood.

Yet Morgan’s real motive?

He feels comfortable. He enjoys it.

It’s fun.

“There’s really no sugarcoat on it,” he said. “This is just my look — I don’t know how to say it.”

Morgan’s fashion quirks transcend the ballpark. He always tries to wear bright-colored clothing, especially on his feet.

Why?

“Easy breezy, man,” he said. “Just easy going.

“Go out there and have fun - enjoy each day.”

That also goes for the sun-splashed afternoons at McKechnie, or the upcoming summer nights at PNC Park.

“It’s still a game. Even though we get paid good money to do what we do, and this is a business and everything,” Morgan said, “it’s still a game. You can’t lose (sight) that it’s still a game, and you’ve always got to finish a game with a smile on your face — even if you went 0-for-4.”

Baseball’s a game of ebb and flow, especially for a guy like Morgan, a 33rd-round draft pick in 2002 who has appeared in 86 major-league games since.

“After a Little League game, the first thing you worried about was whose parents are bringing the drinks and the Capri Suns,” he said. “For me, I just try and go at it. It’s a long season...but I’ve got to figure out how to keep an even keel.”

It’s baseball. It’s fun.

And if you ever forget, take a look at Morgan’s socks.

Works for him.

John Lembo, sports writer, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2097.

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