The Mayor Of Orrsville

From UGA to Baltimore, Jimmy Orr made his mark

Super Bowl III, 1969: The New York Jets shocked the football world by living up to Joe Namath’s pregame prediction of victory. But the one play fans still talk about came right before the end of the first half.

Baltimore’s Jimmy Orr was standing alone, waving his hands, flapping his arms, gesticulating with all his might in a desperate attempt to get the attention of his quarterback, Earl Morrall.

Orr was 10 yards from a touchdown. The nearest Jets defender was 40 yards upfield.

Morrall never saw Orr. Instead he saw Jerry Hill and threw a short, flea flicker pass his way. The Jets’ Jim Hudson intercepted and for all practical purposes the game was over. The Colts’ momentum was gone. Final score: Jets 16, Colts, 7.

Orr, who played 13 seasons and caught 400 passes for 9,714 yards, left an indelible mark on the National Football League. He was Rookie of the Year in 1958 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching 33 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns. He played on two Super Bowl teams – besides the Jets game, his Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, in Super Bowl V.

A walk-on at the University of Georgia, Orr twice led the South-eastern Conference in pass receiving (1955) with 24 catches for 443 yards and three touchdowns and 16 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns (1957). He made the All-SEC Academic Team and was chosen for the Blue-Gray All Star Classic.

He was a lightweight (180 pounds) in a heavyweight’s game, but he took the beatings, the pounding and never flinched. A Philadelphia Eagles 300-pounder fell on him and separated his shoulder. Orr was rushed to a hospital five blocks away. He stripped down to his shorts and underwent X-rays of his shoulder and thighs. Trainers helped him back into his uniform. He ran the five blocks back to the stadium, checked into the first huddle and took a 22-yard pass from Johnny Unitas for a touchdown.

The Colts and their fans named the right hand corner of the Baltimore Stadium “Orrsville.” That’s where Orr specialized in eluding the opposition: feinting left and right, weaving, bobbing and heading for the end zone. And catching the uncatchable.

Former Colts General Manager Don Kellett says, “Orr has the greatest natural hands I have ever seen.”

Orr was a sandlot league football player, but never played on his high school football team. His sports were basketball and baseball. He went out for football one year at Clemson University, transferred to Wake Forest, but then decided to become a walk-on player at Georgia.

“Neal Alford, then the University of Georgia trainer, convinced me to come to Georgia and I told him I would if I could play quarterback. But backfield coach Sterling Dupree saw me run and catch the ball and convinced me to play halfback,” Orr says.

“His hands were like glue,” Dupree says. After two games Coach Wally Butts put him on scholarship. Orr expressed his thanks by leading the SEC in pass receiving.

“Mr. Alford said Coach Butts would love me. I stayed at Georgia three years and I never did see any love from Coach Butts. When I got to the pros, I may have been the smallest man on the field, but thanks to Coach Butts I surely was not the dumbest,” Orr says.

The L.A. Rams drafted him. Thinking he would get killed playing against some of those pro giants, they traded him to the Steelers. Talk about a mistake – Orr became Rookie of the Year.

Orr was a sensation in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. He didn’t drop balls; no coach chastised him. In Baltimore, he made his home in Orrsville and left enemy pass defenders diving hopelessly into space.

After retiring from pro football, Orr ran card games in casinos, sold real estate and operated a restaurant and bar, “Jimmy Orr’s” in Atlanta.

Today, he and his wife, the former Lynn Musgrove, live in Brunswick. Orr plays golf, golf and more golf. His biggest thrill was hitting a hole-in-one on the 12th hole at the Augusta National Golf Club.

What could be better?

Categories: Features, Sports Leisure