May 11, 2005
Former Notre Dame football standout and Muskegon, Mich., native Jim Morse was honored by being selected to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the Notre-Dame Michigan baseball game on May 11. The game was held at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, located just outside of Grand Rapids, and is sponsored by the Notre Dame and Michigan alumni clubs of Grand Rapids.
Morse was honored with the Monogram Club’s Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award in 2004, at the annual Monogram Club dinner in the Joyce Center. A major benefactor to his alma mater, Morse presented the gift that served to underwrite the James and Leah Rae Morse Center for Academic Services. Named after the former Notre Dame star and his wife and dedicated in 2001, the Morse Center – located near the center of Notre Dame’s south quadrangle – encompasses the First Year of Studies and the Academic Services for Student-Athletes offices.
Morse – a private investor with interests in hotels, radio stations, aircraft and factory outlet malls – has served on the advisory council for Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters since ’81 and also serves on the Athletic Alumni Development Committee. He was the ABC radio voice of Notre Dame football from 1964-67 and his other gifts to Notre Dame have included several scholarship funds, an endowed fellowship for MBA students and a major gift to the Guglielmino Athletic Complex that is set to open in the fall of 2005. Morse also has provided challenge grants of a million dollars in 1998 and a half-million in 2000 for Catholic education in his hometown of Muskegon.
A three-year starter at right halfback, Morse captained the ’56 team while becoming just the ninth Notre Dame player (now 21) to lead the Irish in receiving during multiple seasons – making 17 catches for 424 yards in ’55 and 20 for 442 in ’56 (an ND record at the time for reception yardage). His 41.6 yards-per-catch (5 for 208) in ’55 vs. USC still remain an NCAA record. He also played a key role in the ’54 comeback win over USC (23-14), scoring twice including the decisive touchdown on a late 72-yard rumble (part of his 19-carry, 179-yard day).
Jim and Leah Rae Morse are the parents of seven children, two of them Notre Dame graduates.