In 1943, William and Mae Baker Morgan moved their family of seven children from deep in the Appalachian mountains of Hyden, Leslie County, Kentucky to east Dayton. Jim and his six younger siblings, Sally, Sam, Charles “Mickey”, Thomas, Brenda, and Betty excelled in the Dayton Public Schools.
At Stivers, Jim dedicated nearly all of his free time to basketball. He became a starter on the varsity as a sophomore. By the time he finished his high school career, he had scored 1105 points and was named to the All-City First Team. The 1953 team won the city title but lost to eventual state champ, Middletown, after being ranked first in Ohio most of that season. Numerous scholarships were offered to Jim.
One from Adolph Rupp at U.K. but he decided to play for the Louisville Cardinals. Jim became the 11th player in that school’s history to score over 1000 points. He averaged over 18 points per game in an era without the three point field goal. His 1956 team won the NIT National championship by beating Dayton, 93-80. U of L retired his #12 jersey when he was inducted into their hall of fame, and it hangs in the rafters of Freedom Hall today. Jim was the 15th pick in the 1957 NBA draft by the Syracuse Nationals, which became the Philadelphia Warriors, and are now the Golden State Warriors. He was not satisfied with the Syracuse contract offer and turned it down to return to Dayton to coach and teach at Stebbins H.S. In nine seasons, he compiled a record of 109 wins and 57 losses.
Then in 1966, he resigned to pursue his true passion of training thoroughbred horses. Jim became one of the top trainers in the midwest and had six “horse of the year” awards in the state of Ohio. At one time, Jim had won more races and money than any other competitor. In 2006, he was nominated for induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga, NY. When Jim retired, he became very active in Stivers alumni functions. He was inducted into the Stivers Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
He served as committee chairman for 14 years, and then on the committee until his death. Jim is survived by one son, Jay, one daughter, Peggy, two grandchildren, Jay and Chelsea Bush (Matt), and two great-grandchildren, Bennet and Lucas Bush. Stivers High has never had a better ambassador than Jim Morgan. The Hall of Fame committee is still in shock over his death. We will miss him more than we yet know. Rest in Peace, Tiger.
– Paul Lewis, Stivers AHOF