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Voice of Odessa football is still loud and clear - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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Voice of Odessa football is still loud and clear

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Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 12:00 am

Mike Patton’s careers range from the family furniture business to law enforcement to politics, but the pleasure he’s derived from moonlighting as a sportscaster has been the constant in his life.

   This is the 35th year that Patton has done the radio broadcasts of Odessa high school football games. And this week, he’ll describe yet another Odessa High-Permian showdown.

   He’s gone through countless partners — including a newspaper columnist whose identity is being withheld — and has collected a mountain of tales about exploits on the Friday night road, from the trials and tribulations of finding telephone connections in tiny press boxes to the inevitable monkeying around that goes on before and after games.

   For instance, he was doing a game in El Paso years ago when lightning struck the press box, frying the broadcasting equipment, knocking the game off the air and trapping occupants of the metal press box for about 30 minutes while technicians worked to de-electrify the area. So when he declares, “I have survived for 35 years,” he really means it.

   Patton did his first broadcasting in 1972 when Permian was headed for an undefeated season and a state championship. He was color man and Don Scott was doing the play-by-play. “Believe it or not, I was deathly afraid of public speaking,” Patton admits. “But I just decided to hit it head-on.”

   The next year, Scott took a television gig in another part of the country, and Patton was thrown into the play-by-play seat. “I was terrible by my own assessment,” he recalls.

   But it was something he loved. He can vividly describe the smells and sights of the first game his father took him to as a youngster. The visiting team was the Pampa Harvesters and he remembers asking his dad what a Harvester was and getting a complete explanation.

   For readers who are counting the seasons from 1972 until now, they amount to more than 35. Patton took two seasons off when his father was battling Parkinson’s disease and was hospitalized in Dallas. But he was still doing play-by-play of sorts because he’d tell his dad about the high school football games while visiting.

   He also “retired” from radio after being elected Ector County commissioner. But he came back.

   He knows about playing through pain. Last year, he had cataract surgery that greatly enhanced his ability to see numbers and describe action on the field. This season, he’s battling two worn-out knees. But they’re scheduled for replacement. “My goal is to do 40 years,” Patton said.

   He’s driven because he knows a lot of people who can’t make the games in person because of illness or infirmity, but they listen on the radio. His dad was among that number at one time.

   So now, “I always work in something to mention people who are listening who are sick in the hospital that I’ve been told about.”

   He’s gotten feedback from families about how that simple gesture brightened a sick person’s day. “It’s one of the things keeps me going,” Patton said.

Odessa, TX

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