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Pat Sweeney

Pat Sweeney spent — er, survived — nearly 35 years as a North Dakota TV sportscaster with stops in Williston, Dickinson and Grand Forks. While working 32 years at WDAZ in Grand Forks, he was a three-time winner of the North Dakota Sportscaster of the Year award. During the flood of 1997, he switched to news reporting and helped WDAZ win a national Edward R. Murrow Award for its coverage. For 28 years, he was the TV play-by-play announcer for UND men's hockey, football and men's and women's basketball games. He also called UND football games on radio in 1992 and 2015. In September 2014, he finally started working "normal" hours, taking a job at the University of North Dakota. He produces video features for the UND website and does some community relations work. The St. Paul native's athletic claim to fame is holding Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor's water bottle for two years as the manager of the Cretin High School basketball team.

PAT SWEENEY: Scott Miller, You Will Be Missed!

It is never easy to lose a friend. It is even more difficult when that friend is Scott Miller.

The radio voice of North Dakota State football and basketball — and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks baseball — died Feb. 25 in Fargo after a four-year battle with cancer.

Scott was not just an outstanding sportscaster; he was simply a quality individual, as genuine off the air as he was on.

We met in 1992, when we were the radio broadcast team for UND football, and quickly became the best of friends.

Scott was a pro, always prepared, never putting himself above the games he covered. He was also a man who lived his faith.

To lose him at age 57 just doesn’t seem fair, but cancer never is.

Some things you should know about Scott:

— Before he became the radio voice of NDSU sports for 20 years, he called UND football and men’s basketball from 1992 to 1995.

— In 1995, the Grand Forks station carrying UND sports inexplicably and unfairly replaced Scott, hiring a Texas announcer who had a big-time voice and one year of NFL experience. One official at the station accused Scott of being “overprepared.” (I thought, “When did THAT become a crime?”) It was a low point for Scott, who was unemployed for about nine months.

— On top of that, the station manager had the gall to ask if Scott could stay on for another week or two and work his afternoon air shift because several employees were on vacation. Anyone else would have told the guy where to get off. Not Scott. He stayed and worked — and did not say anything negative during his final show.

— In 1996, looking for any on-air work, Scott was hired as the first radio voice of the Grand Forks Varmints baseball team. At a news conference, the team owner started to introduce Scott but forgot his name.

— Scott never called a Varmints game because he applied for the NDSU job when it opened in the spring of 1996.

Dana Mogck, WDAY’s then-sports director, called me at WDAZ and said, “I want to ask you about Scott Miller. We’re listening to his tape and he’s outstanding. We can’t believe this guy is unemployed. What happened in Grand Forks?”

“You’re right,” I said. “He IS outstanding. There was no reason to replace him. It makes no sense. But you couldn’t go wrong by hiring him.”

— The guy who replaced Scott on the UND broadcasts? He lasted one year. The station then lost the UND radio rights and has never had them since.

— Years ago, driving home from a Saturday night game, I heard Scott broadcasting from Bismarck, announcing the North Dakota Class A boys basketball championship on his Fargo station. It was a thrilling overtime game between two western North Dakota teams. What really impressed me was how enthusiastically Scott called the game — even though the teams were not in his station’s primary coverage area. One thing about Scott: He never “phoned it in.”

— Scott hated to miss a game, but he made an exception in July 2006. He was in Winnipeg with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks baseball team. But he drove to Grand Forks to be with my wife and me on our wedding day. We never forgot that.

— We visited Scott in the hospital less than a week before his death. Even in his foggy state, he knew us. And incredibly, one of the first things he whispered was, “How’s Brue?”–meaning our mutual friend Mike Brue (formerly of the Grand Forks Herald and WDAZ; now with NDAD, a charitable nonprofit).

Maybe it’s not so surprising. When you were around Scott, it was never about him.