By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Will Patteson has a dream.
His grandfather was close to making it to ‘The Show.’ Patteson wants to do the same. If not, he’ll be ready to follow a different path.
“I have not worked out what I want to do after college yet,” Patteson said. “If I don’t get to make it to the pros I will have that to fall back on.”
‘That’ is a mechanical engineering degree from West Virginia University Tech. The Narrows senior will also play baseball for the Golden Bears, which is the answer to another dream, playing his favorite sport at the college level.
“That has been my goal for a good while now,” Patteson said. “It is an engineering school too and they have got a really good program up there for baseball and that was my best option.”
The 6-foot Patteson, who is a speedy center fielder and a crafty left-handed pitcher, recently signed a letter of intent to play for the Golden Bears, who finished 24-28 last season under WVU-Tech head coach Lawrence Nesselrodt.
“He has put a lot of work into his baseball, that has been his life in developing his skills,” said Patteson’s father and coach at Narrows, Bryan Patteson. “We are just real proud of him because he has worked hard and he has an opportunity to go play for a great school and a great coach.”
Patteson has led the Green Wave this season with a .429 batting average, while using his speed to swipe 37 bases, and has also struck out 66 batters from the mound.
“He has had a great year,” Bryan said. “He is a left-handed pitcher and he has got a good curveball and it is hard to hit.”
The entire Patteson family, which gathered for a signing ceremony recently at the school, is thrilled to see Will follow his college and professional dreams.
“We feel fortunate that he has the opportunity to go to college and try to reach his goal,” Bryan said. “He wants to be a engineer too and it is a really good engineering school...
“The good Lord has blessed us a lot. He has a lot of potential and he works hard. He works hard in the classroom too so we are just real proud and fortunate to have the opportunity.”
Heading into Friday’s continuation of the often-delayed Mountain Empire District tournament, Narrows was 13-6-1 on the season, and Will was a big reason why. He has mostly played first base or pitcher this year, but expects to play center field or serve as a middle reliever for the Bears.
“I haven’t played center field much this year because we haven’t had a first baseman,” Will said. “I would rather be in the outfield than anything else.”
That is where he will be in Montgomery after WVU-Tech lost a pair of seniors and their top base stealer to graduation.
“He has told me I am going to be in center field because of my speed and he thinks I will do great things up there too,” Will said.
Will’s grandfather, Bill, is a Hall of Famer at Emory & Henry College in basketball and basketball, and later coached at Narrows for 30 years.
“He played a lot of baseball in a semi-pro league down in Saltville,” said Bryan Patteson, who added that his father was invited to a pro camp in Florida with the Washington Senators. “He made it, but his mother was in Pearisburg on her death bed and his father made him come back to Emory and finish out his final year and graduate or my dad would have been playing for the Washington Senators.
“He was down there with Harmon Killebrew, he was taking infield with him, that is pretty neat.”
Baseball has long been a passion for Will, who was able to learn the game through a close relationship with his father.
“It is different, I guess, he has always coached me and in the long run that has helped me out,” Will said. “We talk about baseball sometimes (at home), but sometimes I just go to my room and relax and he goes and hangs out with mom.”
Patteson, who played point guard on the basketball team for the Green Wave, spent the last two off-seasons working on his game, one year in American Legion ball and last summer with the Mid Atlantic Pirates in the Norfolk area.
“In Legion ball I did really good against some of the top players around the region, the summer after that I went and played for a team down in Norfork and did really good there too,” said Will, who settled on West Virginia Tech ahead of Bluefield State.
That type of exposure helped Patteson got his shot in college, and Bryan is confident college will do the same for his dreams of playing at the professional level.
“He wants to get out there and play at any level. I know there are different professional leagues, there is MLB and there are the private leagues that get you ready for the MLB,” Bryan said. “I think Coach Nesselrodt had some good players last year.
“There are different pro leagues that they tried out for. I think one of them is playing for a team out west and he hopes to get picked up by one of the MLB teams.”
First things first, Will knows success at WVU-Tech can lead to exposure to professional scouts.
“He has seen that, he wants to try to help out in the outfield and they lost their leading base stealer so he wants to get in there and compete and help the team the best he can,” Bryan said. “The coach is expecting him to come in there and help out and he is a good pitcher also.
“He is a lefthander which they are hard to hit and there are never enough lefthanders and he can bring him in for middle relief.”
The task ahead won’t be easy. The transition from high school to college rarely is.
“I have told him it is going to be lots of hard work,” Bryan said. “When he is down there he is going to have to be working on his books and when he is not doing that he is going to have to be working on baseball.”
Not a problem for Will, who hopes to keep playing for a while longer for Narrows, with the Region C tourney on tap next week.
“We just want to play, we are not looking forward to practice right now,” said Will, whose Green Wave have been rained out twice and hoped to finish up MED action on Friday. “If we can get up we will be all right, when we get behind we don’t do as good.”
Just getting outside to play has been a challenge for local teams this spring.
“It has been different, I don’t ever remember being indoors this much and missing games and playing five games in the last week of the season, you don’t have a lot of control over it and everybody is tired of being indoors,” Bryan said. “The kids want to play, we want to play because the last couple of weeks we have got a lot of wins, and we want to keep that going.
“That is just another goal, we just want to win this game and keep going and win the region and that is another goal we have set...
“We just want to keep playing baseball. We have taken everything one pitch at a time, one game at a time and we have done that all year long so we are not going to change anything.”
Will is excited for the next step in his life, and feels like Narrows has prepared him well.
“It has been great, where we have the long classes at Narrows that will help me for classes in college,” Will said. “Also West Virginia Tech is losing two outfielders so that has me set up there to do good.”
—Contact Brian Woodson