Willie Patterson

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Willie Lee "Pat" Patterson (born April 1, 1919 in Americus, Georgia; died August 20, 2004 in Mobile) was a catcher and infielder for the Birmingham Black Barons and other Negro Leagues teams and a career longshoreman.

Patterson was the oldest of six children born to Willie Lee and Hallie Pickett Patterson. He excelled as a ball player growing up in Birmingham and was recruited to play for Republic Steel in the Industrial Leagues. He began his professional baseball career as catcher and third baseman for Tommy Sampson's 1946 Birmingham Black Barons. By 1948 he had been picked up by the Memphis Red Sox and soon moved across the state to join the Chattanooga Choo Choos. In 1949 he earned a start with the Chicago American Giants and in 1950 he spent time with several teams, including the New York Cubans.

In 1951 Patterson returned to the Black Barons. After a brief stint in the Canadian Provincial League, he split his time in the 1952 season between the Chicago American Giants and Philadelphia Stars and followed in 1953 with a return to Memphis. He started at first base in the 1952 and 1953 East-West All-Star Games. In 1954 he played a season with the Louisville Clippers and retired from the Black Barons in 1955.

After retiring from baseball, Patterson moved back to Mobile and began working as a member of the International Longshoremen's Union No. 1410. He retired in 1981 and continued to coach Little League teams and to speak about his experiences in the Negro Leagues. He was inducted into the Black Baseball Hall of Fame in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Patterson died in 2004 and was survived by his wife, Virginia, eight children, twenty grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Patterson was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.


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