Cy Greenlaw Old-Timers Salute Award
Pat Rooney comes from a family of great baseball players, one of four Rooney boys to make their mark in Tacoma baseball lore. Brothers Tom, George, Jim and Pat were all good players in the 1930s and 40s, and they came from a family that bled baseball.
George and Jimmy Mosolf were the Rooney's cousins, and they were excellent players in their own right. In fact, Jimmy Mosolf played 118 games over four seasons of major league baseball, finishing with a .295 career average. Mosolf, a left-handed hitting outfielder, broke in with Pittsburgh in 1929 and spent three seasons with the Pirates before finishing his major league career with the Cubs. Mosolf also had success in the Pacific Coast League, playing for the Missions, among others.
Dave Brundage, now the manager of the Tacoma Rainiers, is married to one of Jimmy Mosolf's daughters.
Tom Rooney's grandson is Jeff Conine, for many years a major league ballplayer and now a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Conine, born in Tacoma to Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame member Jerry Conine, was a 58th round draft choice and played his first major league game in 1990, 17 years ago.
Pat was born on Nov. 15, 1922, in Tacoma. A left-handed batter and thrower and a lanky 6-0 and 170 pound, Pat Rooney really broke onto the local scene as one of the stars on the 1941 Lincoln High School Abes that won the unofficial state title.
The senior first baseman helped the Abes finish the regular season with 28 victories in 32 games, including winning the Cross-State League crown. The state title came via 4-0 and 8-2 wins against Walla Walla and Bellingham in a three-team tournament played at Athletic Park in Tacoma.
The following year, Pat got his first taste of semi-pro ball, hitting .218 as a first baseman and rightfielder for the Tacoma Tigers of the Western International league. Though his average wasn't as good as he would have like, Pat still drew high regard as an outstanding baseball prospect.
As with many young men his age, Pat enlisted in the military immediately following the season. Most of his service to this country during World War II came aboard a bomber in the Pacific.
Upon his return stateside, Pat got a position as a scout for the Dallas Rebels of the Texas League. During that time, he got the thrill of a lifetime when he played in practice games against Joe DiMaggio and the New York Yankees, Stan Musial and the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Boston Red Sox.
Pat finally returned to competitive baseball in 1946. After brief stints with Dallas of the Texas League and Williamsport of the Eastern League, Pat settled in with Lubbock of the Class C West Texas-New Mexico League. He had a phenomenal year, hitting .347 with 26 doubles and 70 runs batted in while playing just 108 games.
The following year, also with Lubbock, Pat had another phenomenal season with a .328 average, 21 doubles, 11 triples, five homers and 60 runs batted in while playing 111 games.
Pat later played for Greenville in the Big State League and Sherbrooke of the Canadian/American League. Alaska, the "Land of the Midnight Sun," drew Pat for one season of baseball where he met his wife-to-be, Anne. Finally, he closed out his career with two seasons in Coquille, Oregon.
Pat and Anne came back to Tacoma to raise their family, and now they have nine grandchildren. Daughter Gail is married to Gary Cicelski, and they have three children. Daughter Debbie married Gary Arneberg, and they have four children, three of whom are married. Son, Greg, and his wife Lori have two children.
Pat, now retired from a career at Nalley's Fine Foods, lives in Puyallup.