Burdette Morago inducted into the U of A Sports Hall of Fame
September 7, 2018
Aaron J. Tohtsoni
Gila River Indian News
Burdette Morago was inducted into the University of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson on Aug. 31 and was recognized by Wildcat fans during halftime of the football season opener against Brigham Young University on Sept. 1.
Morago was one of nine former athletes along with the 2018 women’s golf national champions that was inducted as part of the 2018 Hall of Fame class. He was a pitcher for the Wildcats from 1956-1959 and twice led Arizona to the College World Series and signed a professional contract with the Boston Red Sox.
The induction ceremony was emceed by Brian Jeffries, Voice of the Wildcats. Speaking to the attendees was Athletic Director Dave Heeke and President Dr. Robert Robbins.
“Tonight we welcome an incredible group of Wildcat athletes,” said Heeke. “They really are athletes here but they are people that made such a great impact.”
As a former Wildcat baseball player, Morago, led the team in strikeouts and earned run average (ERA) in 1957 and won eight games during the season. In total, he competed in 43 games and started 34 of them. His career record was 21-9 with a career ERA of 3.07 and had a batting average of .291, which is believed to be the highest of a primary pitching player.
In 1958, Morago pitched the Wildcats to victory in the District Championship game against Texas. The next year he shut out Texas A&M in the championship both wins sent Arizona to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
“When I was first informed of this event,” Morago said during his acceptance speech. “I have to admit that I was pretty well choked up. It never occurred to me that something like that would happen but it did.”
During his speech, he recalled a story when James Fred McKale was upset that Morago missed a few classes and threatened to drive to Sacaton and tell Morago’s grandfather. He was shocked that McKale knew of Sacaton and later found out that the pair were great friends and would watch his games together occasionally.
He also said his favorite memory was the first game playing in a Wildcat uniform seeing his mother and father in the stands and the emotions that came over him in the moment is something that he hasn’t experienced since.
On Saturday evening, Hall of Fame inductees were honored during halftime of the football season opener. Other inductees included Klaus Ambrosch (Track and Field), Shelley Duncan (baseball), Kristie Fox (softball), Charmaine Gale (Track and Field), Adam Kuehl (Track and Field), Mallory Miller (soccer), Doug Towne (swimming) and Karin Wurm (gymnastics).
“Every once in a while, somebody will ask ‘are you a Wildcat?’ … my response usually is damn right!” concluded Morago.