Long before Bo Jackson knew everything, and before Deion Sanders introduced Prime Time to worldwide audiences, there was Dick Groat.
A two-sport star in both MLB and NBA, Groat took the sports world by storm throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of such a beloved member of the Pirates family and Pittsburgh community,” Pirates owner Bob Nutting said in a statement announcing the news. “The National League MVP and World Series Champion in 1960, Dick remained a very active and cherished member of our Alumni Association. We were honored to have just recently informed Dick and his family that he had been selected to the Pirates Hall of Fame. He was a great player and an even better person. Our thoughts go out to his three daughters, eleven grandchildren and the entire Groat family. His was a life well lived. He will be missed.”
One of the best two-sport athletes ever, Groat not only played in MLB but also had a brief stint in the NBA on the heels of a historic basketball career at Duke University, where his number is retired. He was the third overall pick in the 1952 NBA draft but wound up playing in just one season after enlisting in the Army.
Following his service in the Army, Groat jumped right from his career at Duke into Major League Baseball, bypassing the minor leagues entirely. He batted .284/.319/.313 and finished third in 1952 NL Rookie of the Year voting before the previously mentioned two years of military service.
In all, Groat played in parts of 14 Major League seasons: nine with the Pirates, three with the Cardinals, two with the Phillies and one partial season with the Giants. He retired as a lifetime .286/.330/.366 batter with 2138 hits, 39 home runs, 352 doubles, 67 triples, 829 runs scored and 707 runs batted in. He won World Series rings with the Pirates in 1960 and with the Cardinals in 1964.
Ironically, both of Groat’s World Series rings came against the New York Yankees.