EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article, written by Gib Snyder, appeared in the Dunkirk Observer in 2008 upon the dedication of the Robert "Bob" Patterson Babe Ruth Field in the city.
Reminiscing and talking old times were all part of it Sunday as the Robert "Bob" Patterson Babe Ruth Field was dedicated.
Patterson, the city's long-time Recreation Department director until his retirement, was honored for his efforts over the years. Those efforts included both on-duty and off-duty work on the city's ballfields.
Fourth Ward Councilman Robert George represented the city and presented a plaque to Patterson to start the ceremony.
"Bob, I've known you for 25 years," George said. "On behalf of the city and the Concord Babe Ruth League and all the other baseball leagues around here, I'd like to present you with this plaque."
Next to speak was Ed Wisniewski, president of the Dunkirk Little League.
"You don't know how lucky the city of Dunkirk is to have Bob Patterson and the recreation. He's responsible for Promenschenkel Park field, the Dunkirk Little League field, Koch's field and the Babe Ruth field," Wisniewski said. "We have some of the best fields around here. When we look at our fields today we should be proud. Congratulations, Bob."
Taking the next turn congratulating Patterson was Dunkirk High School baseball coach Frank Jagoda.
"This goes way beyond the Babe Ruth field and the high school field. This goes to Bob and all the stuff he did in Dunkirk Recreation," Jagoda said. "And I don't think the young kids realize how privileged they are to have somebody who's done so much for the youth."
Jagoda recounted Patterson's roof-sitting stint on City Hall to help raise funds for the then Dunkirk Boys & Girls Club.
"Countless hours he sat on top. These are the kinds of things Bob Patterson has done throughout his lifetime and he's never asked for anything. He's never asked for anything from anyone," Jagoda said. "He's probably really humbled by this. It's a great tribute to him."
Jagoda touched on Patterson's efforts to help Dunkirk sports.
"It was the tireless hours that he spent. The countless hours he would be there at midnight, at Promenschenkel, to make that field look nice when there was a tournament. He would do the extra things that make him a special person. I really appreciate everything that Bob has done for us and I'm sure you do, too."
The guest of honor was up next and was quick to state how he was able to accomplish what he did.
I'd like to thank my wife Pat for all those times she would look out the door and say, 'Where are you going now?' And as you all know the old saying goes, 'At home, if momma ain't happy, nobody's happy.' " Patterson said. "And she stayed by me and allowed these kinds of things to happen."
Patterson said he played the first year Little League was at the Woodrow Avenue field in 1956 and played Babe Ruth the next year, "approximately in this location."
He added: "For 52 years or 54 years people have been carrying these leagues and doing the things that I do. So I'm a little uncomfortable, especially as I look out in the crowd and see a lot of other people who've been doing these same things for years. There really are a tremendous number of people who have put in a tremendous number of hours in the last 50-some years for Little League and Babe Ruth League.
"That's kind of where my involvement comes from, because somebody did it 54 years ago when I was playing in Little League."
Patterson then spoke of the inspiration behind making Promenschenkel Stadium a top-notch facility.
"There is nothing worse than showing up at a field somewhere and the grass isn't mowed and there's no lines down and the fields aren't raked, it's terrible," he said. "So Tommy (Rozumalski) and I started years ago at Promenschenkel Stadium. Our idea was that it was going to be the best softball field in Western New York, and for years it has been. We have teams coming in from all over Ohio, Pennsylvania and Canada. And, to a team, they say you have the best facilities to play sports on that they've ever seen.
"I think that's a tribute to everybody here. I do them because I think the kids deserve them and the kids need them."
Patterson also had praise for cooperation of city government.
"We're lucky here," he said. "The city administration, for many, many years the city brings the big high-lift over and the front-end loaders and equipment that we've used for 50 years to take care of these. People like Mayor (Richard) Frey. All you've got to do is call them up and they're there. Year in and year out, anytime we had a Little League or Babe Ruth League work party, up rode all the city equipment."
According to Patterson, he's not done yet.
"I'd like to see these kinds of facilities down the road for Dunkirk High School," he said. "Our next step is to start working on that high school baseball field and that high school softball field to have a facility like we have here. I think that's needed and that's what we're going to work on.
"I thank everybody. I'm not sure all this is necessary, but I appreciate it. My family appreciates it. I think you very much."
Bob Patterson was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
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