It’s hard to imagine that after 25 years of success at the University of Miami, head baseball coach Jim Morris is retiring. Morris helped turn UM into one of the country’s most elite programs, leading the school to 13 College World Series appearances and two national championships.
And now, in 2018, Morris is in the midst of his final campaign.
“It’s kind of an emotional, unique year for me being my last year of coaching,” Morris said. “I’ve had a uniform on since I was 8 years old. I know next year will be even more emotional when I’m sitting out there watching, but it’s a great time. It’s the best move I’ve ever made as a college coach or as a coach, period.”
Morris has become one of the most well-known names in baseball and has inspired players throughout their college and major league journeys.
“Jim Morris was a player’s coach,” said Danny Valencia, a former Miami Hurricane and current MLB infielder. “I gravitated to him because he was easy to talk to, and he also was a good coach to motivate players to be better. He pushed us pretty hard but also was the first one to give you accolades when you did well.”
MLB World Series Champion Jon Jay said Morris had an incredible impact on his career and that going to Miami was a perfect fit because he constantly had a chance to compete against the best in the country.
“Coach Morris taught me the fundamentals of the game and all the little things it takes to win,” Jay said. “I try to use those same traits now that I learned since I left campus in 2006.”
Through the years, the administration has recognized the impact Morris made since he stepped in for former head coach Ron Frazier.
“You have a legend,” Miami Director of Athletics Blake James said. “One of the neat things about our baseball program is, if you look at our last two coaches in Ron Frazier and Jim Morris, we have two of the greatest in the history of college baseball. Two of the real icons.”
James hinted at a number of upcoming surprise events to honor Morris throughout the 2018 season.
The pressure is also on the current roster to have a comeback year after the Canes missed the postseason in 2017, ending a 44-year streak. The players would want nothing more than to reach one more College World Series for Morris before his retirement.
“No doubt he deserves it,” junior relief pitcher Andrew Cabezas said. “He’s by far, I think, top three best coaches of all time. We will be able to go as far as we think we can, and it will be a good ending to his career.”
Junior Romy Gonzalez said he is especially excited to play at Georgia Tech, where Morris began his head coaching career.
Certainly there are a few concerns about how young Miami’s team is, but its talent is apparent.
“This baseball program has been on a big run for a long time,” Jay said. “Last year was just a little hiccup in the program, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Miami is going to be back where it belongs as a perennial powerhouse this year.”
To put Morris’ career at UM into perspective, his record as a head coach is 1,568-691-4. Out of the 1,568 wins, 1,064 of them were at Miami.
At Miami, Morris is a two-time National Coach of the Year – for the 1999 and 2001 seasons – and won ACC Coach of the Year with the Hurricanes in 2008.
It’s rare to find coaches that consistently lead their teams to the playoffs year after year. Morris made it look easy.
“The administration has always supported me,” Morris said. “I know that without that support, you can’t win … It doesn’t guarantee you will win, but we got a great product sell here. That’s the baseball program and the University of Miami academic program.”
Morris has always made sure his players were not only successful on the field but also in the classroom.
In 2015, Hurricanes baseball had the highest GPA of any team in the College World Series, sporting a 2.97 team average. This year, the roster’s overall GPA is an impressive 3.14.
With his coaching career coming to a close, Morris said he looks forward to spending time with his wife, Nhan, and his 5-year-old son, Will.
But in his final year, he is still focused and determined to take his team to Omaha for another chance at a national title.
“I think it’s going to be a fun team to watch,” Morris said. “We are going to be aggressive. We’ve got some good athletes on the field who can hit home runs. I know people would rather watch a game that’s 6-2 than 1-0, but as long as we win, I don’t care.”
Morris will leave a legacy as one of the greatest coaches in Miami history.