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BALL FIVE: Recalling a favorite conversation with Pat

I have been asked many times over the years, “When are you going to take over for Pat?”
That, of course, was never going to happen, being a writer does not make a guy a radio commentator. But it is and always will be one of the greatest compliments I have ever been paid. To be mentioned in the same breath as Pat Morrison as a voice of Mobridge Tiger, and of course Mobridge-Pollock Tiger sports, why that is very humbling, indeed.
I first met Pat way back in 1976. Our relationship blossomed when I was a bartender. We spent many hours talking sports, but even more than Mobridge sports, at least back then, we talked about baseball. That was probably because we both thought of ourselves as knowing more about America’s pastime than anyone else and our debates were deeper and more knowledgeable.
That leads me to a wonderful memory of a conversation we had over a beer one night.
I was regaling Pat with some statistic about some player or some team, checking Pat’s reaction to see if it sparked something for our happy hour debate.
“All right, smart ass,” said Pat. “There have only been 10 players to hit 50 home runs in a season. Name them.”
Now, I’ve always had a brain that can put useless things in file that can be brought out at a later time when the information is needed. This must have been one of those files, but I also think I had seen the list during the not-so-distant past. This might have been in 1990, the year Cecil Fielder was on his way to becoming the 11th man on the list.
For your reference, the 50 home run club was a lot smaller before ‘90s, the beginning of the steroid era. There are 27 members now.
Okay, back to the story. Pat wasn’t fazed when I listed the obvious names like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Roger Maris. He figured I would get George Foster, because at that time he was the most recent member of the club, having hit 52 homers in 1977. He gave me Hack Wilson, because Wilson played for the Cubs.
Pat started harrumphing when I came up with Ralph Kiner, Hank Greenburg, Johnny Mize and Jimmie Foxx.
Gaping at me, he said, “You blankety-blank, you don’t even know who those guys are.” Blankety-blank is not an exact quote.
Truthfully, they were just names I remembered from a list I was lucky enough to remember at the right time. All except for Foxx anyway.
I told Pat I knew all about Double X, because I used a Jimmie Foxx model bat during my American Legion career.
Without batting an eye, Pat looked at me and said, “Didn’t help you much.”
Yes, Pat got the last word in on that and countless other conversations we had over the years. In fact, this may be the first time I’m ever getting the last word in.
I’m going to miss you, old friend.