Upon the tragic death of Darryl Hamilton on June 21, 2015, Nicholls State University baseball coach Seth Thibodeaux wanted to come up with some way to carry on the former Major League Baseball player and Colonel great's legacy.

Hamilton, who had made a return to his alma mater and was an avid supporter of the Colonels, shined while at Nicholls from 1984-85 where he was named to Baseball’s All-American team before being selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1986.

That began Hamilton’s 13-year professional baseball career in which he also played for the Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and New York Mets, where he was a member of the 2000 National League Championship team and played in the World Series.

Hamilton later became a broadcaster for MLB Network and was inducted into both the Nicholls and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fames.

After speaking with Hamilton’s brother, John, following his untimely death, Thibodeaux came up with the idea last season to start a new Colonel tradition and allow a current player to wear Hamilton’s retired No. 11 during the season.

Last year, Justin Holt became the first Colonel to be bestowed the honor.

This year, Holt was on hand at the Nicholls' First Pitch Banquet on Feb. 3 to hand the reigns of the No. 11 over to senior shortstop Joey Morales.

“Joey is certainly deserving and it is a high honor for our program,” Thibodeaux said. “His teammates voted him team captain and voted him as this year’s number 11 for a reason. We thought this would be special because Darryl meant a lot to this school, and this school meant a lot to him.”

Morales, a native of Fort Myers, Fla. has started every game for the Colonels since his freshman year in 2015.

In his first three years at Nicholls, Morales has hit .240 with three home runs, 54 RBIs and a .306 slugging percentage while also carrying a .946 fielding percentage.

The senior said he is humbled by the honor of wearing No. 11 for the Colonels this season.

“It truly is humbling and an honor to keep the legacy alive of Darryl Hamilton,” Morales said. “To be looked at like that by this team means a lot and I hope I can impact others the way he did. It is truly an honor.”

While he did not personally know Hamilton, Morales admits he knew of him and the legacy he left behind at Nicholls. He hopes to carry on the same traits that Hamilton possessed to the team this year and give it his all for the Colonels.

“My goal is to be the best leader I can possibly be for this team, win a championship and make everyone around me better,” Morales said. “It’s not so much about me but what I can do for Nicholls and this baseball team.

“It has been a long journey,” he added. “It’s a blessing and now I am just grateful for the opportunity I was given.”