Ten years ago Michael Morton took a catch worth $100,000 – to mark the anniversary Mary Anne Gill caught up with him.
Michael Morton will never forget the moment he won $100,000 by catching a cricket ball.
His Waipā real estate colleagues, fellow volunteer fire brigade members and mates from St Peter’s Catholic and St John’s College remind him “all the time”, particularly this month.
The catch made ESPN Sport Channel’s plays of the day, a packed house roared in appreciation and thousands of television viewers watched as the bespectacled young man wearing an orange t-shirt plucked the ball – which had been hit for a six – out of the air with his right hand.
Ten years on Michael, 38, a Cambridge property manager, describes the moment as “life-changing”. He used the money to put down a deposit on the house he and wife Nicola still own in Leamington where they live with daughter Reagan, now 16.
It was Wednesday January 8, the Black Caps were playing the fifth and last one dayer against West Indies in a day-night game at Hamilton’s Seddon Park.
Dominion Breweries had come up with a competition running throughout the 2013-14 season against the West Indies and India. Spectators who bought and wore Tui t-shirts and lanyards were eligible to win $100,000 provided they caught a six in one hand.
Five games in, no one had come close – even at Queenstown on New Year’s Day where Corey Anderson pummelled 14 sixes over the boundary.
Michael swapped his day off from Forlongs in Frankton where he worked in the sports department.
He gave blood and plasma at New Zealand Blood Service in the morning and with a bandage around his right elbow protecting the wound he met up with father Peter at the cricket.
They got there early, before the 2pm start, picked the lanyards up at the gate and sat on the lake side embankment.
Nicola had made some pies for them and five overs in Peter started tucking into one of them and was part way through it as Black Caps left armer Mitchell McClenaghan ran in to bowl the third ball of the over to Kieran Powell.
The classy left handed West Indian dispatched the ball over the boundary to bring up the tourists’ 50 runs.
“He sure whacked it. It came straight to me. It never looked like going anywhere else,” said Michael, who aside from wearing the orange T shirt, was also wearing jandals and stubbies.
Peter, a Cambridge chartered accountant for years and father of five, shouted to him that the ball was coming.
“I stood up, I didn’t even have to stand all the way up and it went straight in. I was never going to try catching it with two hands. The good thing was he hit it quite flat, because a lot of them they hit really high and gives a chance for lots of people underneath, shoulder to shoulder. It just stuck.”
Michael’s reaction was classic. He spun around and put two arms into the sky, the cricket ball still in his right, bandaged arm.
Peter thrust his left arm skywards with the pie still in the other hand. The crowd rushed to congratulate Michael and his father, chewing furiously, slowly got up to give his son a high five.
Michael threw the ball back and the game continued. A few overs later he was interviewed by commentator Mark Richardson and in an obvious sign he knew his cricket, referred to the former Black Cap as ‘Rigor’, a shortened version of Rigor Mortis because he was such a slow batsman.
Michael had been a classy spin bowler throughout school, played representative cricket for Hamilton and been at Northern Districts’ trials. He no longer played the game but was still an avid fan.
Other media attention followed. The story went global. Michael and Peter were invited into a corporate box and shortly afterwards Nicola turned up having been alerted by friends of the catch.
They left before the match was over – West Indies won by 203 runs to square the series – and went to celebrate with family and friends in Cambridge where they watched the clip “over and over again.”
The catch is on You Tube – just put in “Michael Morton catch”.
He never gets sick of being reminded. “Why would I mind? It’s a happy memory. It’s a pretty good story to tell for the rest of your life.”