Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, and Carl Erskine, MLB pitching legend and advocate for underprivileged youth, will receive the inaugural Clayton Family Circle of Honor awards from Marian University on Saturday, April 17, 2010.
The award was created to honor individuals for their exemplary contributions to the intellectual, physical, and spiritual well-being of youth in Indiana and beyond. Through their actions, Morris and Erskine model the universal values of dignity and fairness. They have helped create and expand opportunities for young people to participate in activities that build their character and confidence and contribute to their future success in life.
The award is named for Indianapolis businessman Joe Clayton, the current chairman of the board and former CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio. Clayton agreed to lend his name to these awards because he believes in the character-building qualities associated with small college athletics. It is important to him that this point be underscored: at Marian University and his alma mater, Bellarmine, the faith tradition and values are activated in many ways, including athletics. On the fields and courts of competition, student-athletes also learn respect, fair play, and teamwork. These values carry over into all areas of a person’s life: personal relationships, careers, parenthood, and community service.
The induction dinner is April 17, 2010, at 5 p.m. in the Steffen Music Center on the campus of Marian University. For sponsorship and ticket information, contact Brad Edmondson at 317.955.6201.
About Jim Morris
Jim Morris has a special interest in improving the lives of young people, and giving back to his city, country, and the international community. For over 35 years, Morris has combined a distinguished career of business, philanthropic, and humanitarian leadership with a personal life of public service. Both his career and his volunteer activities have reflected a commitment to improving the lives of others. After serving six years in city government in Indianapolis, primarily as chief of staff for then-mayor Richard Lugar, Morris became director of community development for Lilly Endowment Inc., overseeing initiatives in community development, education, and religion for one of the nation’s largest charitable foundations. He eventually became president of the endowment and served in that role for six years. Morris then became chairman and chief executive officer of IWC Resources Corporation and Indianapolis Water Company.
In 2002, he became executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest food aid organization, and continued his tireless effort on behalf of the hungry and poor, especially children. Under his leadership, the WFP carried out the largest humanitarian operation in its history, feeding 27 million Iraqis affected by the ongoing warfare in the region. After travelling to all of the major regions served by the WFP and seeing firsthand the brutal realities of starvation and disease, Morris pledged to be a catalyst for collaborative international humanitarian efforts. In 2003, he led the first United Nations humanitarian mission to Darfur and Sudan.
In 2008, Morris became president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment. In the community, he has served various roles with the American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Riley Children’s Foundation, and United States Olympic Committee. He is a former chairman of the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Indiana University, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from IU; he received a master of business administration from Butler University.
About Carl Erskine
Carl Erskine is a former professional pitcher with the Dodgers who played in five World Series, pitched two no-hitters, and was a nine-season teammate of Jackie Robinson. These facts only scratch the surface; after retiring from baseball, Erskine began a second, 35-year career in banking, serving as president of Star Financial Bank and chairman of the Indiana Bankers Association. His love affair with America’s game continued here, and for 12 years, he coached the Anderson University Raven baseball program to four championships and a college World Series appearance. It was because of baseball that he became involved in the lives of underprivileged youth—an opportunity Erskine considers to be one of the most important moments in his life.
Erskine had been conducting baseball clinics in central Indiana when he received a call from Fort Wayne businessman Dale McMillen, founder of Central Soya. McMillen had financed the construction of a community baseball diamond for Fort Wayne residents with the hope of serving many. He was driving through the park he’d donated, and saw dozens of kids trying out for Little League. He was elated, until his driver told him that 80 percent of those kids would go home broken-hearted because they didn’t make a team. So McMillen invited Erskine to help him create the legendary Wildcat Baseball League, now celebrating its 50th year, for kids who wanted to play the game regardless of ability or disability, color, creed, or religion. Nearly 200,000 Wildcatters have played more than 100,000 games, won nearly 50,000 trophies, and worn out thousands of baseballs. No one knows exactly how many smiles or shouts of laughter were shared because new generations of kids found their own love of the game.
Erskine continued his personal philanthropy around baseball, serving with Special Olympics, Babe Ruth Baseball, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is a founding member of the Hopewell Center and Anderson Leadership Academy, and has received numerous awards and recognition. He was elected to the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, and received the Sachem Award from the governor of Indiana in March of 2010.