He attended Rutgers University, pursuing a degree in Comparative Literature.
Patterson was raised in Haddonfield, New Jersey and attended Haddonfield Memorial High School.
He appeared in numerous productions, including Rasputin and Miss Julie.
Patterson spent seven years, from 1980 to 1986, as a professional pitcher in minor league baseball, topping out at the Triple-A level (the highest before the major leagues).
He played his first pro season with their Class A Anderson Braves in 1980, and his last with the New York Yankees' Double-A Albany-Colonie Yankees and Triple-A Columbus Clippers in 1986.
Patterson also pitched in the Puerto Rican Winter League (Arecibo Wolves, 1984-5) as a member of the New York Yankees, and the Dominican Republic Winter League (Santo Domingo, 1985-6), as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He was exposed to the teachings of such luminaries as Paul Newman, Arthur Penn, and Frank Corsaro at The Actors Studio.