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Red Patterson Dies of Cancer : Baseball: An executive with both the Dodgers and Angels, he was a public relations innovator.

February 11, 1992|ROSS NEWHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Nobody had ever hit the ball out of the left side of Griffith Stadium, so I decided to go out into the neighborhood behind the fence," Patterson recalled. "I found a youngster with the ball, asked him where it had landed, and paced off that distance to the fence. We knew how far the wall was from the plate, so we could announce that it was 565 feet. Mickey was absolutely the strongest player I ever saw."

Patterson would apply the newly created "tape measure" to other homers in other places, the distances often raising skeptical eyebrows but also creating headlines and conversation, as did many of his other contributions.

Patterson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as their publicity director in 1954, came West with the team in 1958 and later became vice president of public relations and promotions.

It is estimated that he made 300 speeches a year on behalf of the club, often three a day, seven a week. His promotions, including a Straight 'A' Night for students, were copied throughout baseball and helped the Dodgers become baseball's attendance leaders on an almost annual basis.

Impressed by Patterson's accomplishments and looking for ways to reach the Angels' fans, owner Gene Autry hired Patterson as club president in 1975. Patterson's title changed to assistant to the owner when Bavasi was hired to oversee budget and playing player personnel in 1977, but Patterson's promotions and programs helped the Angels set a club attendance record of 2.5 million in 1979 and draw 2.2 million or more in every year except one since then.

He resigned briefly in 1985, believing he no longer retained any authority, but basically remained on the payroll as a public relations consultant. He continued to make occasional appearances on behalf of the club until recently, and periodically wrote a baseball column for the Anaheim Bulletin.

In addition to his wife, Patterson is survived by sons Kenneth and Brian, daughters Janet Huie and Maureen Haskins, and 15 grandchildren. Services are pending.

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