To call Patrick McBride MD’80 a collector of sports memorabilia doesn’t quite cut it. Most collectors are bystanders, folks who honor history by acquiring artifacts.
McBride’s collection captures firsthand memories.
At fifteen, McBride — now a professor and associate dean for students at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health — was a batboy for the Milwaukee Brewers in their inaugural 1970 season. He also worked the sidelines for the Green Bay Packers, back when they played half their home games in Milwaukee.
As if that wasn’t enough, McBride was also the Milwaukee Bucks’ ball boy, and later, as a seventeen-year-old high school senior, he became the youngest-ever equipment manager in a professional sport.
It was a magical time for the franchise. The Bucks landed Lew Alcindor in the 1969 NBA draft. In his second season, Alcindor, at right, who would change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, won his first pro championship. It was also the Bucks’ first and only championship.
McBride remained Bucks equipment manager until he was accepted to attend medical school at the UW. Most of the mementos he acquired sat in a closet for decades, though occasionally he’d pull something out to show to friends.
Last year, McBride decided it was time to part with some of the memorabilia. He auctioned a jersey that Alcindor had worn during his rookie year and the championship season. Mears Online, a South Milwaukee-based authentication service, purchased the jersey with a bid of $80,000. Mears plans to display the jersey for the public.
“I have the memories. I was on the bench; I was in the dugout; I was on the sidelines — the memorabilia mean less to me because I was there for the big games and championships,” says McBride, who is preparing to sell more of his collection. “Selling this allowed me to pay for my children’s education and support some causes I believe in. Now these important parts of Wisconsin sports history can be seen by more people.”
McBride is in the process of writing a book about his experience and how it has informed his medical and teaching career. He plans to call it The Luckiest Boy in the World.