Maurice H. “Spike” Gorham (1914-1983) was a professional baseball player from Proctor, Minn.
Born in Duluth, Minn., on June 7, 1914, Gorham moved at a young age with his family to Proctor, where his father worked for the Duluth, Missabe and Northern Railway. He graduated from Proctor High School in 1933.
Along with his brother, Francis, Gorham was a star athlete for Duluth State Teachers College (now the University of Minnesota Duluth, UMD). As quarterback, he twice led the football team in passing, rushing, and scoring (1933 and 1935). He led the Bulldogs to the Northern Intercollegiate Conference (NIC) football championship in 1934, and was twice named All-NIC in football (1934 and 1936).
Although he stood just five-feet-and-nine-inches tall, he is the only basketball player in UMD history to be named all-conference four times (1934-37). The Bulldogs won the NIC championship in each of Gorham’s four seasons, and were a combined 71-9 in that stretch. He was team captain as a senior.
Gorham was also a sprinter for the Duluth State Teachers College track and field team in 1934.
It was during the summers of his collegiate career that he played professional baseball. He played for the Brainerd (Minn.) Blues of the Class D Northern League in 1935, and batted .314 (54 for 172) and hit seven home runs in 47 games. He was closer to home the following summer, with the Superior (Wisc.) Blues of the Northern League. He batted .318 (107 for 337) with 23 home runs in 83 games for Superior in 1936. Gorham finished his professional career with the Des Moines Demons of the Class A Western League in 1937. He batted .255 (96 for 376) with seven home runs in 108 games. Des Moines was the top minor league affiliate of the American League’s St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles).
After graduating from Duluth State Teachers College in 1937, Gorham was the head basketball and football coach at Shakopee (Minn.) High School. He also taught at New Prague (Minn.) High School.
He moved to Albert Lea, Minn., in 1944, where he worked for Wilson Meat Packing and played amateur baseball for the Albert Lea Packers. In 1948, Gorham was named the Minnesota Amateur Baseball State Tournament MVP after he batted .533 (8 for 15) and had 56 defensive chances without an error as a catcher for Albert Lea in the tournament.
He married Bernice Johnson in 1949 and they moved to Fairmont, Minn., in 1950. He was the player/manager of the Fairmont Martins amateur baseball team from 1950 to 1953. He worked for the Anderson Beverage Co. until his retirement in 1976, and owned and operated Spike and Bernie’s Cafe in Fairmont for 16 years. He was a high school basketball referee and baseball umpire for over 30 years.
Gorham died at age 69 on June 21, 1983, at Fairmont Community Hospital. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Fairmont. He had a son, David, and six daughters: Wendy, Patricia, Marlene, Linda, Barbara, and Carolyn.
He was inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963, as a charter member. He was also inducted as a charter member of the UMD Athletics Hall of Fame, along with fellow Proctor alumnus Dan Devine, in 1991. Gorham was inducted into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Hall of Fame in 1990.
Written by Zenith City’s Anthony Bush.
Duluth News Tribune obituary, 6/23/83
Fairmont Sentinel obituary, 6/23/83
Proctor Journal obituary, 6/30/83