Pat Moreland, teacher, ball player, runner — living legendPat Moreland. Mention the name in Douglas County and it evokes an abundance of response from all who came across his path over the past quarter of a century. Not many men are as revered, respected and highly regarded as the retired school teacher from Lake Nebagamon.
By: By Mike Granlund & Don Leighton, Superior Telegram
Mention the name in Douglas County and it evokes an abundance of response from all who came across his path over the past quarter of a century. Not many men are as revered, respected and highly regarded as the retired school teacher from Lake Nebagamon.
Donald “Pat” Moreland grew up on a lake near Iron River as a youth, enjoying hunting and fishing with his family. Soon baseball and basketball became his passions and as he entered high school he quickly made his mark in these two sports.
He was a star for the Iron River Wolverines. Among the other athletes in that area were Dave Goldberg, John McLean, Dick Moran, Clarence Sauve, Marvin Diamon, and Earl and Leroy Forslund. A quick guard with a penchant for scoring in basketball and a crafty southpaw pitcher, Pat soon was renowned for his skills.
Pat went to college in LaCrosse as a freshman playing sports and working his way through school. One job Pat had in Poplar was at the pea cannery, taking the train home on weekends and work whenever he had a chance. Along the way, he also worked on the railroad and sailed on the Great Lakes.
It was during this time that he married his sweetheart, Leona Wedan, a Poplar gal whom he met when they both worked for Norman LaPole, Sr. at the cannery.
Pat transferred to Superior State College and got his degree and began a career as a teacher.
His first teaching post was at the Oulu school, at that time primarily made up of youth of Finnish heritage. He became lifetime friends with many of the folks there. As a tribute to that friendship, some of his longtime Oulu friends sewed a quilt together for him that is made up of T-shirts that he accumulated as a result of competing in distance running races.
Soon he got a job in the Northwestern School district and spent 14 years at the Lake Nebagamon school. Here Pat made school fun and he made recess even more fun and he participated with the kids. During World Series time the TV would always be on in the corner of his classroom.
He then went on to teach phy ed at the Northwestern High School and Middle School for the next 19 years. He touched many lives along the way, including one of these writers, Don Leighton. He is the person solely responsible for keeping Don off the streets and on the basketball court where he developed into a standout player and later a gregarious youth coach. Even though the district had eight junior high teams, the first three players to letter in basketball as freshmen at Northwestern all were coached in junior high by Pat — Tom Hansen, Don Leighton and Pat’s son , Scott Moreland.
It was in the summers, though, that Pat became renown for baseball. In his mid teens he pitched two years for the Iron River town team and then spent two years pitching for Brule while. Soon he started pitching for the Poplar Town Team in the Vacationland League and spent many years as “the ace” of that team.
Pat was consistently the top pitcher in the old league, throwing numerous shutouts, some no hitters and rarely walking a batter. Old Telegram articles also prove he was also a great hitter, as he often would help his cause with a round tripper.
Pat pitched in the state tournament a few times, and was on the hill at Milwaukee County Stadium where the Milwaukee Braves played.
If the team needed him, Pat would occasionally toss both games of a doubleheader! He never had a sore arm in all the years he pitched. Part of the reason was due to his style. He didn’t throw hard — curves, changeups and great control were is forte.
If opponents got on base they had better stay close to the bag because “portsider” Pat had a great knack for picking runners off first base. Pat played with many great teammates over those years, including the 1956 championship team of Helmer Hannula, Kit and Bud LaPole, Gene Erickson, Hank and Skip Sedin, Lowell Banks, Webb and Phil Gustafson, Larry Weinandt, Catcher Bob Jacobson, Don Larsen, Bud Bong and manager Chuck Privette.
In later years, youngsters such as Steve Tadevich, Ron Pearson, Obe Saari, Jack Lundberg, Ron Sobey, Al Forsythe, Cal and Bruce Paulson and Cal Ruska, among others, joined the team. Pat was named the Vacationland League’s Most Valuable Player on more than one occasion. Pat played baseball for Poplar until he was about 40 years old.
At age 50, and after a decade of gardening and fishing, Pat began to run. And run he did! Every day from Dec. 10, 1987 to today, he has run. Every day for over 21 years! Mile after mile. Often alone, but sometimes with a friend. Sometimes with his cousin, world class runner Dan Conway. That’s Pat and Dan in the photo on the top of the page. (See Page C4 for Dan’s story.)
Pat has run 26-mile marathon races in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Disney World, Chicago, Portland, Appleton and Eagle River.
Pat ran the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Hurley nine times. Pat ran the Twin Cities Marathon 10 times. Pat ran the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth 20 straight years from 1986 through 2005. He even ran in the world’s most famous race, The Boston Marathon, three times (1986, 1996, and 2000).
In 2000 he ran the Boston Marathon with his daughter Shari Olson and friends Matt and Dawn Long. Pat has kept meticulous records of his training, revealing that he has run over 58,000 miles. Neither a bright and sunny day, nor a cold and blustery day has kept him from his self appointed task. Sore backs, pulled hamstrings; all minor ailments not enough to warrant a day off.
Everything Pat does is to the best of his ability — baseball, basketball, work, teaching, coaching, cutting his grass, gardening or golf. Keeping everything fun and competitive, yet always giving 100 percent.
For some efforts he received press clippings, for some he received T-shirts, for some just the satisfaction that he performed to his maximum, and for some efforts he got the satisfaction that his students or children had the chance to succeed themselves in whatever endeavor they chose.
Pat and Leona raised nine children; Patti (Calvin Pearson), Keith (Nancy), Scott (Peggy), Karen (Bob Coleman), “Bear’ (Patty), Rick, Donnie, Mary ( Tim Ries), and Shari (Keith Olson).
So the legend of Pat Moreland continues. He has added golf to his passionate endeavors in his later years. He already has three hole-in-ones! You can be assured that his golf game is approached with the same passion and dedication he applies to all his endeavors.
That is the only way that Pat does things and it is the reason that the “Legend of Pat Moreland” lives today in Douglas County.