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McDonough recounts historic call of CWS homer featured in
“The Walk Off”

Former LSU baseball player Warren Morris’ championship-winning home run in the 1996 College World Series is the subject of "The Walk Off."
Former LSU baseball player Warren Morris’ championship-winning home run in the 1996 College World Series is the subject of “The Walk Off.”

College Baseball has a lot to celebrate this week on ESPN’s networks. The NCAA College World Series Finals begins tonight (Game 1: Arizona vs. Coastal Carolina, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

 Sean McDonough (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Sean McDonough
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Then, after the 2016 National Champion is crowned in the best-of-3 series, ESPN Films’ latest SEC Storied, “The Walk Off” – directed by two-time Emmy winner Kenan K. Holley – will debut Thursday at 9 p.m. on SEC Network. The film looks back at former LSU baseball player Warren Morris’ championship-winning home run against Miami in the 1996 CWS.

Twenty years later, Morris is the only man ever to hit a walk-off home run to end the College World Series – and it was his only home run of the season.

Sean McDonough, the new voice of Monday Night Football, called that memorable game while working for CBS Sports. He shares his memories of the game and of the Morris home run with Front Row.

What do you recall about that CWS game and Warren Morris’ homer run?
I remember [LSU coach] Skip Bertman vividly telling us that he felt bad for Warren. He said he was a really terrific player and had kind of been hindered the whole year by a hand or wrist injury. If I recall, he had surgery in April. He got back sooner than they thought he would. Skip told us that he does have power but he hasn’t hit a home run all year because he really can’t snap his wrist and pull the ball with any authority, so most of the time he’s trying to slap the ball in left field.

We all know that he turned on that one home run. It was a low laser down the right field line. That added to the drama of it. It was just so unlikely given what Warren had been through that season to get him to that point.

How often are you asked about this game?
Quite a bit, especially when I run into people from LSU or Louisiana. It’s one of the most important moments in LSU athletics. I still think it’s the most dramatic ending in the history of the CWS. It was also the 50th year of the CWS at that time. That is right up there with anything I’ve ever seen. I always put that Warren Morris home run near or at the top of the list because it would be hard to top that in terms of the drama.

What do you remember about that moment in the game when Morris came to the plate?
I remember the unlikelihood of it – and the shocking, dramatic aspect of it. One team looked like it was probably going to win [Miami] and in a second or so, the whole thing changed. writer relives reporting on Morris’ walk-off homer reporter Mitch Sherman was an intern at the Omaha World Herald in 1996. He covered the College World Series for the newspaper and, days before the historic clout, wrote a feature about LSU’s Warren Morris and the Tigers slugger’s injury-plagued season. In a feature on, Sherman recalls the dramatic LSU victory over Miami. ESPN baseball analyst Alex Cora played on the Miami team that LSU defeated; ESPN baseball analyst Todd Walker is an LSU alum and former teammate of Morris.

How do you approach the call on a play like that?
I’m not one for trying to memorize what you are going to say. I just think it always sounds scripted. The best part of calls, anytime it’s a dramatic moment, is your natural reaction. It should reflect the magnitude of the moment. If you just go with the moment and don’t worry about how you’re going to call it, that’s the way I try to approach it.

You also called Joe Carter’s walk-off home run for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. How do you compare these two plays?
They were both dramatic but I think Warren Morris’ was more dramatic because LSU went from trailing in the game and looking like they might lose to winning – and it was a walk-off National Championship.

Joe Carter’s was a walk-off World Series winning home run. It was in Game 6, so even if the Blue Jays hadn’t won that night, they still had the chance to come back and win it again the next night in Game 7. The finality of Warren Morris’ made it a little more dramatic – and the fact that it was the first time in history that the CWS was won on a walk-off home run.

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