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Pat Morrison was the ‘Voice of the Tigers’

Surrounded by his friends, Pat B. Morrison, 92, died Dec. 4, 2017, at Mobridge Regional Hospital and left the community to mourn the loss of one of South Dakota’s most well-known and well-loved sports figures.
Pat stood as a quintessential icon, whose fame as player, official and play-by-play announcer spanned seven decades of South Dakota athletic history.
Pat Bowman Morrison was born on May 29, 1925, to Patrick C. and Mary Jane (McBride) Morrison in Minneapolis, Minn. He was later joined by two sisters, Jane and Marjorie. As a very young child he was dubbed “Sunny” because he was such a bright, cheerful child, and the nickname stuck.
Pat grew up in Mobridge, where he gained a reputation for being a competitive athlete at an early age. When Pat was in high school, the 1942 basketball team was defeated in the state semifinals his sophomore year, but in 1943 and 1944, Mobridge won back-to-back State B titles, and Pat received all-district and second team all-tournament honors.
After graduation from Mobridge High School in 1944, Pat attended the School of Mines in Rapid City for one year. That summer he played baseball in the Rapid City league where his pitching impressed many who saw him. He was encouraged to go to a college that offered baseball and ended up at the University of Michigan, where he pitched for four years. During that time, Michigan won four Big Ten baseball championships on Pat’s way to earning a journalism degree as well as a mass communications Master’s Degree.
After college, Pat joined the Army where he was stationed in post-WII occupied Japan.
When he returned to Mobridge in 1951, he led the Mobridge Amateur to team to the state championship. After that, he continued to play amateur baseball for years. In 1965, Pat became the general manager of the Mobridge Lakers, a baseball team in the Basin League, the number one college summer league in the nation.
Pat’s officiating career got jump-started in 1951 when another referee asked him to fill in as his partner for a few games until another partner could join him. Just a few games stretched into 35 years as his career lasted until his retirement in 1986. As an official, Pat logged more than 250,000 miles by car, refereeing about 2,500 games, including 150 college playoff games and 25 state tournament games.
During the same years that he was officiating, Pat was broadcasting play-by-play action. In 1956, Mobridge’s radio station, KOLY, first went on the air and he was encouraged to try doing the play-by-play. He also started “Coffee with the Coaches”, a Saturday morning interview show with area coaches. For 60 years, Pat was the “Voice of the Mobridge Tigers” until his retirement in November of 2016, at the age of 91. In his inimitable Pat Morrison style, he gave sports enthusiasts a reason to listen to the game with his sharp mind, vivid vocabulary, colorful anecdotes and outspoken opinions.
Included in his many honors and awards are selection to the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, the South Dakota Amateur Hall of Fame in baseball and basketball, the Hall of Shrine at USD for officiating, the Distinguished Service Award for the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame for officiating, and the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. The thing that Pat was proudest of was his association with the coaches and players over the many years. He loved to sit in any number of local restaurants, visiting and reminiscing about the accomplishments of former students, athletes and coaches.
Thankful to have shared his life are his sister, Marjorie (Morrison) Kanne of Bloomington, Ind.; nieces, Mary Jane (Moffatt) Yates of Eminence, Ky., and Sandra (Kanne) Ritter of Indianapolis, Ind.; and nephews, Bruce Moffatt of Annapolis, Md., and Roger Kanne of Carmel, Ind.; along with a number of cousins, his “family” of friends in the community of Mobridge, and South Dakota athletic fans.
Pat was preceded in death by his mother in 1945, his father in 1969 and his sister, Jane (Morrison) Moffatt in 2008.
A Celebration of Life was held in his honor on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, at Scherr-Howe Event Center.
Memorials may be sent to the First State Bank of Roscoe-Bowdle Branch, PO Box 220, Bowdle, S.D., 57428.