Pat Schulte was our Bob Uecker.
Really, there is no better way to describe the Butte character who passed away at the way-too-young age of 65 on March 14.
Like Uecker, Schulte constantly had us in stitches with his self-deprecating quips. Like Uecker, Schulte was always selling himself short with his hysterical lines.
Uecker made a career out of talking about how poorly he played baseball, and his career in the major leagues lasted six seasons. He couldn’t have been that bad.
Pat started out as an undersized guard on the Carroll College football team. Because of a slew of injuries one season, legendary Saints coach Bob Petrino converted Pat into an undersized tight end.
It was a move made by a guy who was all about the team, and Pat contributed as Petrino and the Saints began their incredible run of Frontier Conference titles. Yet, Pat described his football career at Carroll like Uecker describing how he couldn’t catch a knuckleball.
“I think I have a record at Carroll,” Pat once told me. “I think I’m the only tight end they ever had that never scored a touchdown.”
His Carroll teammates will go on and on about how great of a teammate, motivator and leader Schulte was when playing for the Saints. His teammates at Butte Central will do the same thing.
However, Pat was the first one to point out that he was one of the only men with the last name of Schulte to not play in the Montana East-West Shrine Game.
His father Bob, whom we lost last fall, played in the first Shrine Game in 1947. Pat also proudly pointed out that his brothers Mark (1974), Steve (1979) and Joe (1981) all played in the game.
Pat was a starter on the offensive and defensive lines for the 1970 Maroons, but he wasn’t selected as one of the “best of the best” for the 1971 Shrine Game.
That 1970 team is probably BC’s best to not win a state title. BC went 7-1, and the Maroons were left out of the playoffs after losing a three-way tie with Billings Central and Bozeman.
The Maroons, also coached by Petrino, beat both of the teams in the Class A State championship game — Havre and Billings Central — in 1970.
Bernie Brophy, Bob Burns and Buddy Walsh represented Butte Central in the 1971 Shrine Game that season. Pat pointed out great players like Jim Reagan, Bert Markovich, Carl Oreskovich, Dan Dysiniger, John Cote, Jim Jory and Lyle Shanklin also played on that great BC team.
Another similarity between Bob Uecker and Pat Schulte was that both were born to be on the radio, and the Mining City had never had a funnier media personality than Pat.
Along with KBOW morning teammate Paul Panisko, Schulte turned something as simple as the daily road report into a must-listen event.
When it came time for the segment, Pat would leave the studio and call in from a phone in another room. Paul played a helicopter sound effect as he talked with Pat, who would then read the road report from the Montana Department of Transportation.
Some listeners actually thought Pat was in a chopper flying to Monida Pass to Canada, to Lookout Pass, to Billings, and back to the studio — all in a couple of minutes — to give listeners and up-to-the-minute look at the roads.
It didn’t matter that Millennium Falcon wasn’t fast enough to do that, some people believed it. The rest of us laughed like crazy, and that bit was probably responsible for several accidents by drivers who were laughing so hard that they couldn’t see straight.
When he called football games, Pat was amazing as well. He called the game as professional as Vern Lundquist for most of the game.
When I worked at the paper, I would keep notes and stats from listening to Pat’s call. He was so precise that I could get a full box score to run in the next day’s newspaper just from his call.
That is not possible with any other announcer that I’ve heard.
At other times, Pat was funnier than Harry Doyle as he had the listeners wiping away tears of laughter when something unplanned occurred during a game.
One year, the Maroons opened the season in Sandpoint, Idaho, and Pat was there to make call.
I had a couple of pages of notes and a stat sheet filled out well into the second half. I was going to be able to write a story and a box score almost as if I was actually at the game.
Then, just like that, there was several seconds of static. Then a song came on. Then another song, and another.
My box score was shot.
Sure, I was able to get a scoring summary and a few stats from the BC coaches, but it wasn’t the full box that I wanted.
After a few songs, Pat came back on.
I wish I was recording as he explained how he was broadcasting to nobody but himself for 10 minutes. The self-deprecating jokes were flying as he told about how he didn’t realize he was off the air until the phone he was supposedly broadcasting through started to ring.
While Pat never got the call to play in the Shrine Game, he was always at the heart of the great contest. When the game came to Butte for the first time in 2010, Pat was the public address announcer.
Pat and his wife, Tane, also produced a couple of great West Side players.
Connor Schulte represented the West in the 2014 Shrine Game. Kyle Schulte played in 2016. The West Side won in a rout both of those years, by the way, and that is not a coincidence.
Both Schulte boys went on to make their dad extremely proud at Montana Western. Connor, who played with a torn ACL for much of his senior season at Butte Central, completed his career last fall.
While he was never a star for the Bulldogs, Connor Schulte started out as a lineman, where he was too small. He moved to fullback, where he never scored a touchdown.
Still, he will be remembered as the ultimate team guy at Western, much like his father was at Carroll.
Kyle Schulte will be a junior this season. He is a potential future All-American at linebacker.
If you close your eyes and try to picture the epitome of a Western guy, you’ll see Kyle Schulte. Even as a Carroll guy, Pat couldn’t have been more tickled with that.
You could see that in his eyes every Saturday in the fall.
In 2014, Pat finally received the call to the Shrine Game. He was selected as an assistant coach for the West Side.
With tears in his eyes, Pat called it a dream come true. It meant even more that the West roster included Connor.
“It’s absolutely one of the nicest things that’s ever happened to me, especially with the tradition we have in our family and our involvement in the Shrine Game. It’s a real honor to be out here,” Schulte told me following a game-week practice on Montana Tech’s Bob Green Field in July 2014. “With my son playing, that makes it twice as nice.”
Then, like he better than anyone not named Bob Uecker, Pat Schulte made fun of himself.
— Bill Foley, who swears he never fell for Pat and Paul’s helicopter bit, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.