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Honoring Jim Morris’ Final Opening Weekend

The two-time national championship coach deserves being honored

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Miami vs UC Santa Barbara Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Morris, the Miami Hurricanes head baseball coach, is in his final season at the helm in Coral Gables. Morris’ succession plan has longtime assistant and ‘Canes baseball alumni Gino DiMare taking over in the summer of 2018 at season’s end. Morris had amassed 1,064 wins in orange and green heading into the season and twenty-two post-season appearances including thirteen trips to Omaha for the College World Series.

Morris took over the Hurricanes’ program in 1994 after Brad Kelley’s one-year tenure as head baseball coach. Kelley was fired after lying about a drinking incident in the Raleigh-Durham Airport bar. Jim Morris, then the head baseball coach at Georgia Tech, was hired by Miami leaving behind the nations pre-season top ranked team. Morris, who won two national titles with the Miami Hurricanes, also has the dubious record of ending Miami’s forty-four year post-season streak that was started by Ron Frazier and continued through Kelley and Morris until the 2017 squad came up short.

In honor of Jim Morris wearing the number three, here are his three biggest moments in Coral Gables.

3 Developing Talent

For all of the hype behind guys like Pat Burrell and Yonder Alonso, Morris’ truest work has been done with the other guys. Morris has gotten a ton out of walk-ons and little known players over his twenty-plus years in orange and green. Take current UCF head baseball coach Greg Lovelady for instance. The beauty of the 1999 and 2001 CWS rings for Morris was Greg Lovelady’s appearance behind home plate for both. Lovelady, a walk-on from Miami-Palmetto, would rise up from bullpen catcher to starter in 1999, and third-string to starter in 2001.

There’s also Kyle Bellamy, a walk-on who was about to be cut before showing off his submarine ball in workouts. Pitching Coach J.D. Arteaga saw Bellamy and decided to keep him on the roster. Bellamy now works in the athletic department at UM. In addition to guys like Charlton Jimerson who will be featured below.

2 Charlton Jimerson’s 2001 College World Series

Charlton Jimerson was a little known prospect drafted in the 24th round before arriving at Miami as a walk-on for the Hurricanes. Jimerson didn’t even start until the 2001 season after an injury saw him fit into the line up in center field. On his way to become the 2001 College World Series MVP- Jimerson stole seven bases, robbed a home run against the wall, and led off two CWS games with a home run. Compared to the teams in the late 90’s that were loaded with future MLB players, the 2001 team came out of no where to give Miami a football and baseball championship in the same season.

1 Mike Neu closes out Florida State in 1999

The 1999 Hurricanes were the squad that had to take the field after losing All-Americans and what would become longtime MLB players in Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, and Jason Michaels. Burrell left the program after being drafted in 1998 along with Michaels and Huff. However, Morris’ most star-studded team in Coral Gables couldn’t win the CWS. The 1999 squad wasn’t expected to continue the success of those 1996-1998 teams. Instead, they used small ball and closer Mike Neu to win the CWS.

Neu’s final pitch in ‘99 was even sweeter, as Miami beat rival Florida State and did so with only a couple of short-term MLB players as opposed to the squads before and after such as 2008 that were more talented.