The Washington Times - September 30, 2012, 02:04AM

ST. LOUIS — It was the strangest thing Michael Morse could ever remember happening to him in baseball. To anybody, he figured.

Morse hit a home run in the first inning Saturday night, a grand slam to be exact, that dipped over the low right field wall at Busch Stadium, caromed off electronic signage and back into the field. As Morse and the rest of his teammates were prepared to trot their way home, the umpires signaled that the ball was live.

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Ryan Zimmerman froze rounding third. Adam LaRoche pulled up when he saw Zimmerman and scampered back to second. Morse, more than halfway to second, broke into a dead sprint to try to get back to first base as Carlos Beltran relayed the throw in from right field. He wasn’t in time. And he was completely confused.

“It was weird,” Morse said. “I heard that it hit over the fence, hit that wall and came back. You just keep playing, you just keep playing it out. I’m glad it went the way it did, though.”

“The guys in the dugout said it looked 99 percent sure like a homer,” Zimmerman said. “But we’ve been 99 percent sure before and it hasn’t been. You never really know until they come out, but we knew there was a good chance they were going to overturn it.”

But that wasn’t the weird part.

That came next. When the umpires emerged from the tunnel, they turned toward the dugout and told Bryce Harper to grab his helmet and get back on the field. They signaled home run but told all of the runners to go back to the bases they were on when Morse came to the plate. For Morse, that meant the batter’s box.

Morse ran backward, from third to second to first and then, after some additional prompting, home. He was at a loss at that point. 

“I wasn’t sure what to do,” Morse said. “So I ran back and touched all the bases. Then I got to first, and they’re like, ‘Go back to the batters box.’ I’m like, what do you want me to do? So I look over to the dugout, everybody’s telling me to swing. I’m like, no, I’m not going to swing. (Yadier Molina) was like, ‘Swing.’ I was like, all right! So I swung, and it was pretty cool. It felt like spring training or something. It felt like a drill.”

“I think we were all just so happy that it counted we would’ve gone back as much as they wanted,” Zimmerman said.

Morse wanted to be sure they couldn’t take it away from him this time so he ran backward, making sure to touch every base that way as well. That was a first, too, he said.

“I guess I didn’t have to do that,” Morse said. “But if I didn’t do it and they were like, ‘No! You’re out!’ I would never sleep again.”

As for the swing, Morse basically got to live out the dreams of every kid who’s ever played baseball — in a backyard or a street corner all the way up. You could almost see the words hanging in the air “Bases loaded, here’s the pitch, Morse swings and it’s a grand slam!” And he actually hit a grand slam. In a major league game.

“It was pretty weird because I felt like they were waiting for me to swing and then everybody started running,” he said. “I was like, ‘OK, ready? All right, let’s do this.’ I’m glad it got overturned, and it came out on our side. I wasn’t going to (fake a swing) at all, but it was just such a crazy moment. Might as well have some fun with it.”

As Morse finished speaking he turned to his right just in time to see MLBNetwork replaying the moment, darkening the entire picture but spotlighting Morse as he took his unconventional trip around the bases, back, and around them again. Morse chuckled.

“I hope I’m a Jeopardy! question some day,” he quipped.