Dick Groat, Hoops Whiz Who Became a Star Shortstop, Dies at 92

He was an All-American basketball participant at Duke within the early Nineteen Fifties, setting a single-season NCAA scoring report. He went on to play professional basketball. But Dick Groat was largely often known as one in all main league baseball’s main shortstops of his time.

“I’m remembered as a baseball participant and never by the game I performed one of the best,” Groat as soon as mentioned. “North Carolina is the one place the place I’m nonetheless remembered as a basketball participant.”

“I did not have velocity, energy or the best arm,” he advised Sports Illustrated. “Baseball was work, every single day.”

Groat, who died on Thursday at 92 in a Pittsburgh hospital, carried out that work beautifully for 14 main league seasons. He helped take the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates to their first World Series championship in 35 years whereas profitable the National League’s batting championship and Most Valuable Player Award. He anchored the infield for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964 after they gained the World Series. And he was a five-time All-Star.

Groat lacked vary at shortstop, however he was adept at positioning himself and had fast fingers, forming an impressive double-play mixture for the Pirates with second baseman Bill Mazeroski, a future Hall of Famer.

Mazeroski hit the memorable 1960 World Series-winning dwelling run off the Yankees’ Ralph Terry. But Groat, a right-handed batter who was expert at stroking the ball to the other subject on the hit and run and infrequently struck out, gained the batting title with a .325 common. He was the smooth-fielding captain of the Pirates, whose lineup additionally featured Roberto Clemente and Bill Virdon within the outfield and the power-hitter Dick Stuart at first base.

“He makes a nice play and makes it look simple,” Danny Murtaugh, the supervisor of the 1960 Pirates, was quoted as saying by Baseball Digest. “Then he comes again and plops within the dugout as if nothing has occurred.”

Richard Morrow Groat was born on Nov. 4, 1930, in Wilkinsburg, Pa., and grew up in Swissvale, close to Pittsburgh. He was a highschool star in baseball and basketball, which he began taking part in at age 5.

In basketball, as a 5-foot-11-inch, 180-pound guard at Duke, Groat had no hesitation about driving by means of the lane. He hit bounce pictures and was an impressive playmaker. He was a two-time all-American and set an NCAA major-college single-season scoring report with 831 factors as a junior within the 1950-51 season. He averaged 23 factors a sport for his three seasons at Duke.

Playing shortstop, he led Duke to its first College Baseball World Series look, in June 1952, then joined the Pirates, who had been within the midst of a youth motion orchestrated by their common supervisor, Branch Rickey, who had come to Pittsburgh from the Brooklyn Dodgers.

While in highschool, Groat admired Alvin Dark, the shortstop for the 1948 pennant-winning Boston Braves. In Groat’s rookie season, Dark, taking part in for the New York Giants, gave him tips about the way to make the double play pivot.

Groat batted .284 for the 1952 Pirates, then joined the NBA’s Fort Wayne Pistons (now the Detroit Pistons), who had chosen him as a first-round draft decide. He averaged 11.9 factors a sport within the 1952-53 season however performed in solely 26 video games whereas commuting to the Duke campus to finish his diploma.

After Groat spent two years within the Army, taking part in navy basketball for a part of that point, Rickey advised him that he must select between baseball and basketball.

“I used to be heartbroken,” Groat mentioned. “Basketball was my past love.”

But he returned to the Pirates in 1955 and flourished as they grew to become a championship crew 5 years later.

Groat hit .319 in 1963 when he was traded to the Cardinals, and he was runner-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax as most beneficial participant.

With a crew that included Julian Javier on second, Bill White on first, Ken Boyer on third, Lou Brock and Curt Flood within the outfield, Tim McCarver catching and Bob Gibson pitching brilliantly, the Cardinals defeated the Yankees within the 1964 World Series.

McCarver as soon as recalled that Groat was a crew chief but additionally “an antagonist.”

“He was a robust competitor,” he advised Danny Peary within the oral historical past “We Played the Game.” (1994). “You needed to play it his means, ‘the appropriate means.’”

After three years in St. Louis, Groat performed for the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants, then retired after the 1967 season with a profession batting common of .286 and a pair of,138 hits.

He was a longtime radio analyst for the University of Pittsburgh basketball video games and a founder and proprietor of the Champion Lakes Golf Club in Ligonier, Pa.

On Tuesday of final week, Groat was at his dwelling in Edgewood, Pa., a Pittsburgh suburb, when the previous Pirates pitcher and broadcaster Steve Blass appeared on his doorstep with a digital camera crew. They knowledgeable Groat that he had been elected to the Pirates Hall of Fame, and carried out an impromptu interview.

Two days later, on his strategy to watch a telecast of the interview earlier than a Pirates sport, Groat had a stroke, his daughter, Allison DeStefano, mentioned. He died on Thursday, she mentioned.

In addition to Ms. DeStefano, who manages the Champion Lakes membership, Groat is survived by two extra daughters, Tracey Goetz and Carol Ann Groat; six grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. His spouse, Barbara (Womble) Groat, died in 1990.

When Groat focused on main league baseball and put the then-struggling National Basketball Association behind him, he was selecting the pre-eminent American sport of his time and the prospect for good paydays. But he had a private consideration as nicely.

“I confess that one purpose I selected baseball over basketball was that my father did not like basketball,” he mentioned in “We Played the Game.”

“He cherished baseball,” Groat added. “He threw out his arm pitching after I was simply a boy, and he dreamed of getting a son be a main league participant.”

Alex (*92*) contributed reporting.

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