Shalita Morgan couldn't figure out why all those balled-up pieces of looseleaf paper were always scattered all over the floor.
This was about 15 years ago. Eventually, she discovered that her son Tré Morgan '20, about 3 or 4 years old at the time, was just getting an early start on the game he now so loves.
The wads of paper were his baseballs. His shoe was his bat.
And the room was the baseball diamond, his first field of dreams that he hopes will someday land him into a more spacious field of dreams: a Major League Baseball stadium.
It's a dream Tre' and his father John and the rest of the family have talked about his whole life.
There is a chance Morgan, who just graduated from Brother Martin High School, could see it fulfilled Thursday on the second day of the MLB draft.
But chances are, he'll first have to suit up and play for LSU, the school to which he verbally committed as a sophomore. (He signed with LSU last November.)
Morgan's senior season got derailed, first by a an injury to his left elbow right before Brother Martin's season start. And then the Crusaders' season got interrupted, too, just 13 games in, by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the MLB draft was trimmed from its normal 40 rounds to just five.
Morgan watched the first round Wednesday and will watch the other four rounds Thursday. But he knows his chances were reduced once the draft was reduced.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play professional baseball, no matter the route," Morgan said. "So I'm waiting to see if my phone rings. But if it doesn't, I'm ready to go to Alex Box (Stadium) and put the work in so it will ring after those three or four years."
If things had gone according to plan, Morgan likely would have heard his name called at some point following a season when he was one of the front-runners to be named All-Metro Player of The Year. After all, the first baseman and outfielder was coming off a stellar junior season when he batted .488 with three home runs, 27 RBIs, 12 doubles, a triple and 32 runs with a .756 slugging percentage for the reigning Catholic League champion Crusaders.
He was a big reason Brother Martin reached the semifinals of the Division I playoffs last season and was poised to make another run.
But that all changed Feb. 11 in a scrimmage against St. Charles Catholic.
Morgan was on the mound that day. He felt a tingle after the ninth pitch. After the 10th, he beckoned for his coach to come get him. Just like that, his senior season was over, although he didn't think so at the time.
He figured he would miss a couple weeks and at least be able to hit.
But the MRI said otherwise. He had a torn UCL that would require season-ending surgery. The good news was that it didn't require Tommy John surgery.
"I burst into tears and Tre' had a moment," John Morgan recalled.
Once the two collected themselves, Tre' walked over and put his arm around his father.
"I'm going to be all right, Dad. I got this," Tre' said. "My mom told me I get one night to sulk and have sympathy for myself. After that, it is the road to recovery."
While Morgan's season was over, his time with his teammates wasn't. He continued to go to practice and do all he could to help out, especially with the younger players.
"When he got hurt, obviously it was devastating to him and us as a team," Brother Martin coach Jeff Lupo said. "He handled it as well as anybody could handle it. He maintained his leadership role and remained an important part of the team. He became a mentor and just tried to serve as another coach trying to offer insight."
Morgan said he had no choice.
"This was still our last ride, so I couldn't just leave them," Morgan said. "We had a freshman and a sophomore playing first base. So I turned into a coach before I thought I would have to."
Even that didn't last long. COVID-19 interrupted the season after the Crusaders got off to a 10-3 start. Morgan and the six other seniors got the news that the season was over on a Zoom teleconference.
There were about 30 seconds of silence after Lupo dropped the bombshell.
"Once I heard the news, that almost put me over the edge," Morgan said. "I was just getting into the groove of helping my teammates out and at least helping them get back to Sulphur (site of the LHSAA state tournament). We couldn't believe that our season got ripped from us."
Morgan was now facing an 0-2 count. His season was over. And so was his team's.
"This was supposed to be the season to help put me over the top," Morgan said. "That injury just cut it short before I could even get one at bat. My dad took it really hard. All the work we put in together and all the hours that nobody else could see."
Morgan continues to put in those hours in rehab. He's about three weeks away from being cleared by his doctors. That's a little ahead of schedule, which probably shouldn't come as a surprise. His work ethic in rehab is about the same as the dedication he's always had for the game, from the time he first started.
Morgan is a left-hander, so his dad knew just how much that could work in his son's favor. Morgan started playing when he was 4. When he was around 5, his father asked him how good he wanted to be.
"And he answered 'I want to be really good' and 'I want to be the best,’ ” John Morgan said. "I told him that if he meant that, there were going to be some days when he wasn't going to like me very much. But he showed he meant it and worked and dedicated himself."
He's been making all the sacrifices ever since. Morgan skipped all the birthday parties and family functions during the summer for travel ball to work on his craft. He was so focused on baseball, he didn't learn to ride a bike until he was 12. He was invited to a workout by the University of Alabama when he was 14. But he ended up choosing LSU, where he plans to major in pre-med. He won't be too far from his New Orleans home in Gentilly.
"Knowing Tre' and his character, these past few months have definitely served as motivation for him," Lupo said. "His work ethic is impeccable and they had to kind of rein him in a little bit on his rehab to slow him down because he's tackled it head-on. That's why he'll be successful going forward, because of the tenacity and work ethic he has."
So while the past few months haven't gone quite the way he had hoped, he isn't letting it stop him from reaching his ultimate goal. He knows that with fewer players getting drafted this year — and with players who were college seniors this spring getting to return for another year — the competition will be even stiffer once he gets to Baton Rouge.
"It doesn't change my mentality in any way," Morgan said. "I knew going in there that it was going to be a dogfight trying to earn my spot. I've been grinding to earn my spot on every level. So that doesn't change."