CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — For 35 years, millions of sports fans heard Mike Patrick’s voice as a play-by-play announcer on ESPN. Now, those traveling through Clarksburg will see his name proudly displayed upon the city’s parking garage to honor him for all of his achievements in broadcasting.
The Washington Irving graduate was honored Monday with a ceremony at Jackson Square as he became the latest Clarksburg native to have a sign unveiled. It was a day that Patrick called “very emotional.
“I don’t think you ever forget your hometown and the things you experienced, the things you grew up with, and to have so many people come out here today,” he said. “I was hoping for three, maybe. People that had to be here. It’s just great.”
Though Patrick has reached many successes and milestones since calling Clarksburg home, he still feels he owes the credit to the city, his grandparents who raised him and all of those he met along the way.
“The values that my grandparents gave me and that I grew up with, my friends and the things that they believed in and stood for, I’ve carried those with me,” he said. “For whatever good I’ve done, any charitable act I’ve ever committed my entire life was because of the people I grew up with and the things that they believed in, so I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to this city.”
Clarksburg, however, looks much different today than when Patrick graduated from WI in 1962, though he said he is glad to see a revitalized downtown with Jackson’s Square and the soon-to-be-open Robinson Grand.
“That’s what it takes to keep a city vibrant, to keep making changes and keep building new things,” he said. “I’ve never been big on change. Change only seems to subtract something rather than add to it, but this is a very positive feeling and this is a great day for me.”
When Patrick previously returned to the Mountain State as a sportscaster, he had to keep his Mountaineer pride a little more in check, not giving any signs that he still bleeds blue and gold.
“It was great but also when I did a game at West Virginia, it was also the hardest game I ever did,” he said. “I was never going to let anybody say, ‘Hey this guy’s from West Virginia. He was rooting for the Mountaineers. I heard what you said in the third quarter.’ Blah blah blah. That was never going to happen.”
Patrick vividly recalls calling the Pitt v. West Virginia game for a bid to the National Championship.
“And I guarantee you nobody will ever know that I was from West Virginia from listening to a tape of that game,” he said. “When the game was over, I walked into the vacant booth next to me and screamed my brains out because I was crushed by the whole thing, but I did have enough disclipine that during the game, nobody else knew. It was hard, but I loved every second of it.”
Despite the bittersweet ending, Patrick said that’s the most memorable game he called simply because it was the most emotional. But he said nothing compared to the years under Don Nehlen as coach.
“He was a brilliant coach. He was the best coach this school ever had,” he said.
And while he’s still a diehard fan, Patrick said it’s been hard to watch WVU now playing in the Big 12 against schools like Texas and Oklahoma, especially having to forfeit their rivalry with Pitt.
“The first game I ever went to as a kid, my uncle took me to Morgantown, and I walked up the street, and there was a nun carrying a sign that said, ‘Beat the hell out of Pitt,'” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Now, Patrick gets to openly be a Mountaineer fan, and he’s already looking to the upcoming season this fall.
“As long as the quarterback’s healthy, we may have to win them 45-44, but I think they’re going to win a lot,” he said. “I have rooted for them off-camera every game that they’ve ever played in any sport. I’m a dedicated Mountaineer. That’s never changed, but now I can be more open about it.”
Looking back on his career in broadcasting, Patrick said his career highlights aren’t particular games that he called or honors he received but instead the legendary people that he met along the way.
“Just seeing people like Dan Marino play; or talking to Mike Krzyzewski at a Duke game, a guy that respected to the Nth degree; or getting ready to do a Jets game in New York and Joe Namath walks into the booth and says, ‘Hi Mike, I’m Joe Namath.’ Really? You’re introducing yourself to me?” he said. “Those are the kinds of things that just blew me away and continue to, like today does. It just blows me away.”