His unmistakable energy has become a trademark and his distinctive voice has guided and entertained sports fans for decades. After calling some of the biggest events and most memorable moments, play-by-play commentator Mike Patrick has ended his illustrious ESPN career, one that began in 1982, just three years after the network launched.
Patrick’s last event for ESPN was the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30 where Iowa State defeated Memphis 21-20, a game he called with analyst Tommy Tuberville and reporter Paul Carcaterra.
ESPN will air a tribute to Patrick’s remarkable career, narrated by ESPN host Rece Davis, throughout today on SportsCenter. Separately, Patrick plans to attend tonight’s Louisville/Duke game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the site of countless Patrick-called unforgettable moments over the years.
During Wednesday night’s game telecast (9 p.m. ET, ESPN), Patrick will join ESPN’s commentator team of Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Maria Taylor for an on-air segment. Additionally, Duke plans an in-arena salute to Patrick and his exceptional career.
“It’s wonderful to reflect on how I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Patrick said. “At the same time, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some of the very best people I’ve ever known, both on the air and behind the scenes. While I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with new life experiences.”
Throughout his ESPN career, Patrick’s versatility was on full display. He skillfully shifted between sport categories on both the pro and college level. Notably, he was the voice of ESPN’s NFL game coverage (at the time Sunday Night Football) from 1987-2005. In fact, he called the play-by-play for ESPN’s first-ever regular season NFL game telecast in 1987. Beginning in 1988, his partner in the booth was former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann and the duo was joined in 1998 by Paul Maguire.
His extraordinary work on college sports also set him apart. For 36 years beginning in 1982, Patrick was a mainstay. For men’s college basketball, he worked some of the biggest games, highlighted by ACC contests. He covered some of the all-time greatest teams and players, and worked alongside many of the best, including Hall of Famer Dick Vitale. They captured some of the most historic matchups, led by many spectacular Duke-North Carolina games. Incredibly, Patrick called more than 30 ACC Men’s Basketball Championships (combining his stints at ESPN and Jefferson Pilot).
On the college football side, Patrick was featured on the most prominent packages the sport had to offer. Among them, he spent years as the face of ESPN’s Thursday Night Football and also served as the face of ESPN’s Saturday Night Football.
For 14 years (1996-2009), he was play-by-play voice for ESPN’s Women’s Final Four coverage, helping to usher in a new era for women’s college basketball. Amazingly, 10 of the 14 years he called a title won by either Pat Summitt (Tennessee) or Geno Auriemma (Connecticut). They each won five titles that Patrick called.
Patrick was also a major contributor to ESPN’s growing coverage of the NCAA College World Series, serving as play-by-play announcer for many years.
“No play-by-play commentator in ESPN history has accomplished more than Mike Patrick,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN Vice President, Production. “He is not only a gifted professional who skillfully captures the moments and makes others around him better; he brings a genuine sports fan’s excitement to the telecasts. It was a truly incredible run.”
Patrick began his broadcasting career in the fall of 1966 at WVSC-Radio in Somerset, Pa. In 1970, he was named sports director at WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, Fla., where he provided play-by-play for Jacksonville Sharks’ World Football League telecasts (1973-74). He also called Jacksonville University basketball games on both radio and television and is a member of their Hall of Fame.
In 1975, Patrick moved to WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., as sports reporter and weekend anchor. In addition to those duties, Patrick called play-by-play for University of Maryland football and basketball (1975-78) and Washington Redskins preseason games (1975-82).
Patrick, a native of Clarksburg, W.V., received a bachelor of arts degree in speech from George Washington University where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.