A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


Gibby Morales’s home run recovery

Overcoming injuries to shine on the field
Jude Franco
When getting limited at-bats, there’s only one thing on Gibby Morales’s mind – doing damage and driving in runs.

“I would always walk around with a bat, I needed a bat in my hand,” Gibby Morales said. “It was fun and it was something I wanted to do forever.”

Gibby Morales has been playing baseball since he was just a year old.

By the time Morales was three, he started playing t-ball and has not stopped since. Regardless of whether the team was up, 10-0, or down 10-0, he always played hard putting his all into it.


“Feed the kitty!” is the mantra of Gibby Morales every time there is a left-handed batter in the box. (Jude Franco)


Morales played at South Hills High School where he played baseball for four years and took things to the next level by continuing his career at Mt. SAC.

After coming off a stellar freshman season in 2023 where in 37 games he posted a .290 batting average, 22 RBIs and slugging four home runs, Morales was poised heading into 2024 anticipating he would replicate those numbers.

Unfortunately, during SAC’s fall preseason, Morales sustained an elbow injury and a partial tear in his knee that put him out for six weeks and jeopardized his playing time for the 2024 season.

During the offseason, Morales conditioned and trained as every high-level athlete does trying to make it in time for the season: like a bat out of hell enduring simple but monotonous and grueling rehab and conditioning.

Although he played in pre-season to try and ramp himself up for spring, Morales’s injury had not healed enough. Head coach John Knott was upset when he received the news about Morales’s decision for the upcoming season right before it began.

“It was the day before school started, I was so pissed at the kid,” Knott said. “He messaged me that he’s not going to play this year and that he needs to rehab [his injury].”

It was not an easy decision for Morales and did not meet his club’s interests as they hoped their slugging first baseman would be on the field for the season.

Nicole Morales, Gibby’s mother, who has been supporting him throughout his baseball journey, felt this decision was not in her son’s best interests.

“I just told him that I felt like he should play still because I didn’t want him to give up and did not want him to end up not coming back to baseball,” she said.

Despite the challenges Morales faced, his mother believed he was capable of playing the season while overcoming his injuries. She even reached out to Knott about Morales’s status.

His mom told Knott how Morales truly felt, saying he really wanted to play but did not want to let anyone down due to his injuries. This led to coaches having a sit down with Morales to discuss his future with the team. They made sure to keep his health as a top priority but felt there was room to play.

As long as he put in the work, the coaches promised him playing time. Morales agreed and set his sights on the 2024 season.

Although this would not be a typical season for Morales, he was up for the challenge and started his season hot.

In his first seven games, Morales was hitting .333 with a double and five walks. All of a sudden, things went very cold for Morales, as he would go hitless for his next eight games.

“He started struggling,” Knott said. “So we’re getting a guy that can’t really throw the ball, one of our slower guys limited on the bases and he is not hitting the ball well, so we had to bench him for over a month.”

Morales was coming off a wonderful freshman season with a healthy amount of playing time and found himself on the bench for an extended period.

Despite his struggles, the coaching staff saw something special in the type of teammate he was. Instead of complaining or being upset about his performance, he kept his head high and created a good environment for his teammates.

“I’m really quiet but I’m a super fun person,” Morales said. “It all comes down to knowing to have fun and getting involved in a lot of stuff.

Every time a left-handed hitter came up to the plate while Morales was playing first, he yelled “Feed the kitty!” Why? He was asking the opponents to hit the ball toward him so he could get in on the action. The team loved the phrase to the point where it was framed in the clubhouse.

These characteristics are much like his role model, Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman who is known for being a humble and positive player.

He kept his head high, didn’t try to overdo it and trusted the process, keeping his routine with his training, religion and having fun.

“He is a really humble and good kid,” Nicole Morales said. “He always stays focused. He doesn’t get distracted or influenced by other kids and stays with what he believes in.”

While he struggled on the field, there had also been a history of Morales struggling academically.

Morales quickly made the adjustments with a little guidance from his mother, encouragement from Coach Knott and the help of his tutors.

Knott kept tabs on Morales throughout this rough stretch, not accepting any excuses, making sure he lived up to his word to continue to put the work in on or off the field.

Morales got his shot once more on March 17, at Mazmanian Field, making his second start in the month starting at first base. He got hot quickly, notching his first hit and RBI in over 12 games. In his second at-bat in the bottom of the third, he launched a two-run home run over the right field wall for his first home run of the season.

Morales would go 3-4 with a home run, double, three RBIs and a walk.

He earned his way back into the lineup following a stellar performance at the plate.

Scott Zine, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for SAC Baseball, credits Morales for his persistence and said, “He waited for his opportunity, got his opportunity, when it rolled around, just didn’t really look back, got the opportunity and made the most of it.”

Morales found himself in the lineup for the remainder of the season, completing his sophomore season with a .307 batting average, 19 RBIs and slugging two home runs.

He finished his sophomore season in grand fashion, playing with limits and still putting up great numbers. But something even more important developed throughout this rollercoaster of a season– his relationships.

“It’s grown a ton with both my parents,” Morales said. “Both of them pushing me, keeping going and on the right track.”

Coach Knott recounted a moment when he and his coaching staff went to a South Hills game that Gibby Morales was playing in and mistook his sister for his girlfriend as she was wearing a shirt with his face on it. His family gives him endless support throughout the season and only highlights the tight relationship he shares with his parents.

As his time winds down at Mt. SAC, he reflected back on it and does not regret anything about his decision to attend and play for a community college. He has developed not only as a better player but as a person.

His patience was tested through these rough times but he continued to be a good teammate and person.

“He was one of those players that it’s easy to root for as a coach because he is a great kid with a good heart,” Zine said.

Knott echoed Zine’s sentiments. “He’s done well and he could definitely swing the bat,” Knott said. “What I didn’t realize was such a great kid and somebody that wanted information and just genuinely loved to be out there.”

With the help of his coaches and family, Morales pulled through and completed his time at Mt. SAC while looking ahead into the next few steps of his journey. He is currently in contact with three schools to continue playing baseball.

Morales feels better prepared as he moves onto the phase but there is still a lot that must be done. The potential is immense, it is just a matter of using his time wisely and putting in the work to stay on the field.

Most importantly, Gibby Morales has all the confidence in the world, knowing that his family will have his back every step of the way, no matter what.

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  • J

    Joe padillaMay 27, 2024 at 7:03 pm

    I can’t not help it feeling swollen with great pride and joy seeing you becoming what I always knew you were going to be a professional player. I remember waking up on the weekends and hearing you and your dad practicing hitting the ball. Do know I always had known you were heading to the mayors. It’s with a swollen heart full of joy and pride I tell those that I speak I KNOW YOU since you were a kid. And to your dad I always complimented on being a dedicated dad. And shared that father’s pride. Mi RESPETO! GIBBY. Love to hear from you guys. Thank you for sharing your experiences with this old fart. Love you guys!!