Young Summerall a chip off the old block

Posted: May 05, 2011

Sharing a name with someone famous can be cool, but it can lead to tedious conversation.

"It's interesting to talk about," Council Rock North tennis player Pat Summerall said. "It's part of my life. I don't mind talking about it. But sometimes people just ask too many questions, just on and on and on."

They ask questions because he has answers, not to mention common ground with his namesake that is about to expand. This Pat Summerall is a grandson of the Pat Summerall.

The senior, 18, is in his third varsity season with Council Rock North, playing doubles. His grandfather, the retired sportscaster known mostly for working NFL games, U.S. Open tennis, and Masters golf tournaments, played in his day, too. He won a Florida state tennis championship when he was 16.

The elder Summerall, though, made his mark in football, as a 6-foot-4, 228-pound placekicker in the 1950s and early '60s with the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants. The younger Summerall didn't fare as well on the gridiron; he stopped playing as a 110-pounder on the Indians' freshman team.

Their lives will become further intertwined this fall. The younger Summerall will study communications and marketing at Baylor University, less than a two-hour drive from the Southlake, Texas, home of his grandfather and his grandfather's wife, Cheri.

Like grandfather, grandson wants to be a sportscaster.

"When I was on my college search, they suggested that I check out TCU and Baylor," young Pat Summerall said of the elder Summeralls. "They kind of always wanted to have one of the grandchildren go to school near them. I applied to both of those schools, and when I took a visit, I ended up loving Baylor. And having family that close by was a major pull factor to go to Baylor."

"I'm glad he picked Baylor because it's close to where we live," said the elder Summerall, 80, who entered the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame last December.

As the grandfather of 10 - six in Florida and four in Bucks County - he finally won't have to go far to visit one of his grandkids.

The young Pat Summerall was born in Florida and also lived in Massachusetts and New Jersey before coming to Bucks as a fifth grader, when his family opened a business there.

Since then, the grandfather and grandson have seen each other a few times a year.

Young Pat recalls going to his grandfather's Christmas parties and meeting former NFL players, such as Troy Aikman. He also visited his grandfather at work, once at a New York Giants game and more recently at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Over the years, the youngster met John Madden a couple of times and got to know Tom Brookshier and his wife.

Grandfather Pat has seen the teenager play tennis a couple of times, including last year at the Council Rock Invitational.

"He's very mobile and seems to have a good knowledge of the game," the elder Pat said.

Young Pat Summerall started this season at first doubles for the two-time defending District 1 Class AAA champions. Recently, he was shifted to second doubles. Coach Paul Wysocki said there's a lot of parity among his top three or four doubles players.

"Pat is a very aggressive player," Wysocki said. "He's very athletic. He has a big serve and a big forehand, and he knows how to use those to be effective."

This is the last season that young Summerall will compete for his school. Admittedly not good enough to compete for Baylor, he plans to play club tennis at the university in Waco, Texas.

There, he will double-major in marketing and communications specialist. Influenced by his grandfather, he said his communications major will be centered on broadcast.

And not surprising since he's a grandson of the Pat Summerall, he wants someday to do play-by-play on NFL or tennis action.

"If he weren't a broadcaster," the teen said, "I probably wouldn't look into it. A lot of that world is how you can get started. Any kind of help you can get is good in that world, because it's really hard to get started.

"I thought: Why not give it a shot? I like sports, and people have told me I have a good skill set for it."

He also has the name for it. A famous name.

"Right," he said. "That doesn't hurt."


Contact staff writer Lou Rabito at 215-854-2916 or rabitol@phillynews.com.

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