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Mobridge loses the voice of the Tigers

A sports legend and community icon was lost on Monday, Dec. 4, when Patrick B. Morrison, Jr., died at Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics.
A celebration of Morrison’s life will be held on Sunday, Dec. 10, at Scherr-Howe Event Center at 2 p.m.
There will be a community tribute to Morrison on KOLY on Friday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. For more than 60 years, Morrison was the voice of Mobridge High School and Mobridge-Pollock High School sports on the stations of the Dakota Radio group. His colorful descriptions of football and basketball games garnered him many honors, from being named the South Dakota Broadcaster of the Year several times, to being inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
Morrison was a member of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame, the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame and the South Dakota Amateur Basketball Hall of Fame.
He was born and raised in Mobridge and had a prolific baseball career, pitching for the Tigers and then for the University of Michigan before officiating more than 30 years of high school and college basketball.
In the 1950s, he began referring basketball games, a career that spanned 35 years calling about 2,500 high school and college games during that time. Those games included about 150 college playoff games and 25 state tournaments (three Class B and 22 Class A).
But most of all, Morrison was a great athlete. He was a member of the Mobridge boys’ basketball teams that won state titles in 1943 and ’44. He told Tribune Sports Editor Jay Davis, during an interview about being inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame that the two Mobridge High School basketball championships were his greatest athletic memories.
“Of all the things that happened to me athletically, my fondest memory is getting that championship hardware on Saturday night in 1943,” he told Davis. “Those are the only two in school history.”
He went on to play baseball at the University of Michigan. While he pitched there, the Wolverines won four straight Big Ten titles. He graduated in 1949.
After returning to Mobridge, Morrison was one of the state’s best amateur pitchers and threw a shutout in the championship game when Mobridge won its only state title in 1951. He became the star pitcher for the Mobridge Cardinal amateur baseball team and later as a pickup player for other teams.
Morrison was the starting pitcher in the championship game in Watertown on Labor Day, 1951. He threw a six-hit shutout as the Cardinals defeated Wilmot 6-0 in the championship. He struck out nine while walking two, and added two hits and a run batted in on offense. Morrison pitched semi-pro ball for three years (1948-50), one each with International Falls, Minn., in the Arrowhead League, Winner in the Basin League and Storm Lake in the Iowa State League. He was general manager of the Lakers, Mobridge’s Basin League team for seven years and was Basin League president for four.
His radio career began in 1956, when he became the play-by-play announcer for MHS sports, a career that lasted nearly 60 years. As Morrison told the story about how he became the town’s sportscaster, Leroy Okerland, who ran KOLY in those days, pulled him right off the street, telling him the station was going to be broadcasting basketball and asking Morrison if he wanted to be the behind the mic.
“I told him no way. I’ve got better things to do,” said Morrison.
But he relented and was the voice of Mobridge sports until he retired two years ago.
It is the years behind the microphone that are the memories most Mobridge residents will remember. Listening to his description of the action on the field or the court have been a part of life in area communities for decades.
– Katie Zerr –