Pat Patterson (coach)

James E. "Gravy" Patterson, also known as Pat Patterson, (March 26, 1934[1] – October 11, 2007) was the most successful coach in the history of Louisiana college baseball. During his tenure as head coach from 1968 to 1990, the Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs, in Ruston, compiled a 741-462-2 record. Patterson produced eighteen winning seasons in twenty-three years, and his teams won forty or more games in five of those years. He was Conference Coach of the Year seven times.

Pat Patterson
Born
James E. Patterson

(1934-03-26)March 26, 1934
DiedOctober 11, 2007(2007-10-11) (aged 73)
Resting placePines Memorial Cemetery in Ruston, Louisiana
Alma materLouisiana Tech University
University of Mississippi
OccupationBaseball Coach at Louisiana Tech University
Spouse(s)Glenda Bates Patterson
ChildrenJames A. "Tony" Patterson
Lee Ann Teer
The Pat Patterson Park and J.C. Love Field for baseball at Louisiana Tech University

In retirement, he often returned as an interim coach. Seven of Patterson's players, including Mike Jeffcoat, Phil Hiatt, and David Segui, reached the majors.[2] Patterson also coached high school baseball and college football. He should not be confused with the wrestler Pierre Clemont, who used the name "Pat Patterson" as his ring name.

EducationEdit

Patterson was born in Delhi in Richland Parish in northeastern Louisiana. He graduated from Louisiana Tech in 1958, playing football and baseball under legendary Bulldog coaches Joe Aillet and Berry Hinton. He earned four football letters and two baseball letters and went on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Mississippi ("Ole Miss") in 1961.

Coaching careerEdit

He began his coaching career in 1958 at Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe and took a job at C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport in 1963 before he joined the Louisiana Tech athletic department in 1967 as an assistant football coach.

Patterson would serve as both football assistant and head baseball coach at Tech from 1968 to 1978 and as head baseball coach only until 1990. He subsequently oversaw one more football game, having served as interim coach in 1979, when the Bulldogs posted a 13-10 win over local rival Northeast Louisiana University, now known as the University of Louisiana at Monroe, in his only game as head coach.

As head coach, Patterson was named the District VI Coach of the Year in 1974. He led Louisiana Tech to seven National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament appearances during his coaching tenure, the last in 1987. In 1974, Patterson led the Bulldogs to within one game from the College World Series.

Patterson served for several years as Tech’s associate athletic director following his retirement in 1990. In that capacity, he oversaw the eligibility of athletes and monitored NCAA compliance. On three occasions, he was asked to step in as the university’s interim athletic director.

To date, Patterson is the most successful baseball coach in Louisiana collegiate history. He is a member of the Louisiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. A large poster of Patterson hangs on the outfield wall of Louisiana Tech's baseball stadium.

Colleagues recall PattersonEdit

Former Tech baseball coach Wade Simoneaux said that "In my eyes, Gravy IS Louisiana Tech baseball. Anytime anybody mentions Louisiana Tech baseball, his name comes up. He set the bar so high it isn't even obtainable to do what he accomplished here. He was an idol to me."

Tech radio broadcaster Dave Nitz said that when he entered Tech in 1974, Patterson became the "first coach I was really involved with. He took me in and was always like a father figure to me. . . . He was Tech through and through. Nobody loved Louisiana Tech more than he did."

A.L. Williams, the former Tech football coach and Patterson's former Tech teammate, said that he realized that Patterson "had a lot of ability, but, mainly, we just enjoyed being around him. He was always fun-loving and full of mischief. As a coach, he became tremendously successful largely because his players wanted to win for him so much."

Flo Miskelley, Tech's business manager for athletics, said that Patterson "was underrated for how organized and meticulous he was with his work. He was always the same — steady. So kind to everyone, so easy to work with, and such a dear friend to so many people."

Assistant District Attorney Fred McGaha of Monroe, a former all-star Tech baseball player, told the News-Star that Patterson was "the ultimate leader, in that you always knew that he was on our side whether things were going good or bad. . . . Ironically, he didn't consider himself a great coach so he would often talk to other coaches in an attempt to learn more. What he didn't know was that it didn't matter. We were going to play harder than the other team because of our coach. He built relationships with us that lasted forever."

Former ULM football coach Pat Collins of Longview, Texas, who worked with Patterson at Tech from 1967–1979, said, "I remember nothing but good times with 'Gravy'. He was such a great friend to me and to everyone and he was the most positive individual I've ever known. He could always make something good — and often something humorous — out of any tough situation. He was a wonderful man who will be missed."

Mike Kane was recruited by Patterson as the assistant baseball coach: "When my folks met 'Gravy', they knew immediately they wanted me to come to Tech because they believed he would take care of me. He was like a father to me, much more like family than like a boss." Kane succeeded Patterson as head baseball coach in 1990.

Murder-suicideEdit

According to police reports, Patterson was overcome with grief for his wife, the former Glenda Bates (born ca. 1936), an Alzheimer's patient at the Arbor House assisted-care facility near Ruston. He went into the building on October 11, shot Mrs. Patterson to death, and then turned the gun on himself. Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone said that no one else was attacked in the commission of the crime.

"This is something we've never dealt with. You hear of it happening sometimes, but never around here," lamented Joanne Caldwell-Bayles, the Arbor House owner in an interview with the Monroe News Star in Monroe. Caldwell-Bayles added that "Unless you've really seen Alzheimers, you can't really grasp what it becomes. The ones it really hurts are the ones who have to watch their loved ones slip away. He was grieving."

Louisiana Tech President Daniel Reneau said that his campus had "lost two wonderful people. Coach Patterson was a great friend and mentor to countless Tech students over the years, and he and Glenda [who assisted in the athletic department] will be missed by all of us."

Services for the Pattersons were held on October 15 at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Ruston. Interment was at Pines Memorial Cemetery in Ruston. The Pattersons had a daughter, Lee Ann Teer (born ca. 1974) and her husband, Mark Anthony Teer (born ca. 1962), of Yukon, Oklahoma, a son, James A. "Tony" Patterson (born ca. 1960) and his wife Melanie Rigney Patterson of Haughton in Bossier Parish, and a grandson, Evan James Teer. Mrs. Patterson was survived by a brother, John Charles Bates of Gulfport, Mississippi, and two sisters, Peggy Joyce Tuggle of Shreveport and Cathy Jane Dick of Chandler, Texas.

The Pattersons will be memorialized through the Pat and Glenda Patterson Memorial Baseball Scholarship Fund in care of the Louisiana Tech Athletic Department in Ruston.

ReferencesEdit