He was an All-American basketball player at Duke University in the early 1950s and set the NCAA scoring record in one season. He continued playing professional basketball. Dick Grote, however, was known as the leading shortstop in Major League Baseball during his time.
“I’m remembered as a baseball player, not the sport I played best,” Groat once said. “North Carolina is the only place I still remember as a basketball player.”
“I didn’t have the speed, the power, the best arm,” he told Sports Illustrated. “Baseball was a daily job.”
Grote, who died in a Pittsburgh hospital on Thursday at the age of 92, has done the job admirably over 14 seasons in the major leagues. He led his Pirates of Pittsburgh in 1960 to his first World Series champion in 35 years, winning the National League batting his championship and Most Valuable Player Award. In 1964 he played as an infielder in St. Louis as the Cardinals won the World Series. And he was a five-time All-Star.
Grote lacked range at shortstop, but his adept positioning and quick hands made him an exceptional double-play combination between the Pirates and second baseman. Bill Mazellowskia future Hall of Famer.
Mazeroski hit the memorable 1960 World Series-winning home run off Yankees Ralph Terry. However, Grote, a right-handed hitter, was good at hitting the ball into the opposite field with hit-and-runs, rarely struck out, but won the batting title with a . 325 batting average. He was the Pirates’ smooth fielding captain, whose lineup included Roberto Clemente and Bill Vardon in the outfield and power hitter Dick Stuart at first base.
‘He plays great and makes it look easy’ Danny Murtaugh“Then he comes back and jumps into the dugout like nothing happened.”
Richard Morrow Groat was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania on November 4, 1930 and was raised in Swissvale, near Pittsburgh. He was a high school star in baseball and basketball, starting playing at the age of five.
In basketball, as a 5-foot-11-inch, 180-pound guard for Duke University, Grote had no qualms driving down the lane. He hit the jump shot and was a good playmaker. He was his two-time All-American, and during his junior years in the 1950-51 season he tallied 831 points, setting an NCAA Major his one-season scoring record for his college. He averaged 23 points per game in his three seasons at Duke University.
Playing shortstop, the Pirates led Duke to their first college baseball World Series appearance in June 1952, then in the midst of a youth movement organized by General Manager Branch Ricky, who had come to Pittsburgh from Brooklyn. I participated in. Dodgers.
While in high school, Grote idolized 1948 pennant-winning Boston Braves shortstop Alvin Dark. Groat’s rookie Dark, who was playing for the New York Giants his season, gave him a tip on how to pivot a double play.
Grote batted .284 with the Pirates in 1952 and joined the NBA’s Fort Wayne Pistons (now the Detroit Pistons), who selected him in the first round of the draft. He averaged his 11.9 points per game in his 1952-53 season, but Duke played only 26 games while attending campus to earn his degree.
After Groat spent two years in the Army, playing part of that time in military basketball, Rickey told him he had to choose between baseball and basketball.
“I was heartbroken,” Grote said. “Basketball was my first love.”
However, he returned to the Pirates in 1955 and thrived five years later with the winning team.
319 batting average when traded to the Cardinals in 1963, second only to Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers as the most valuable player.
With Julian Javier 2nd, Bill White 1st, Ken Boyer 3rd, Lou Bullock and Kurt Flood outfielders, Tim McCarver catching, and Bob Gibson pitching great, the Cardinals were the 1964 defeated the Yankees in the World Series of
McCarver once recalled that Groat was both team leader and “adversary.”
“He was a tough competitor,” he told Danny Peary of Oral History “We played the game.” (1994). “You had to play it his way, the ‘right way’.”
After playing three years in St. Louis, Grote played for the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants before retiring after the 1967 season with career batting averages of .286 and 2,138.
He was a longtime radio analyst of the basketball game at the University of Pittsburgh and the founder and owner of Champion Lakes Golf Club in Ligonnier, Pennsylvania.
Last Tuesday, Grote was at his home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Edgewood, Pennsylvania when former Pirates pitcher and broadcaster Steve Blass showed up on his doorstep with a camera crew. They informed Grote that he had been inducted into the Pirate Hall of Fame and conducted an impromptu interview.
Two days later, Groat had a stroke on his way to watch the Pirates’ pregame interview telecast, said his daughter, Allison DeStefano. He died Thursday, she said.
In addition to DeStefano, who runs the Champion Lakes Club, Groat has two more daughters, Tracey Goetz and Carol Ann Groat. 6 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. His wife, Barbara (Womble) Grote, died in 1990.
When Grote left the then-struggling National Basketball Association behind to focus on Major League Baseball, he chose the opportunity for the then-excellent American sport and a good payday. There was also consideration.
“I confess that one of the reasons I chose baseball over basketball was because my dad didn’t like basketball,” he said in “We Played the Game.”
“He loved baseball,” Grote added. “He threw up his arm pitching when I was a boy. He dreamed of his son becoming a major league player.”
Alex Traub contributed to the report.