Dick Groat: A two-sport star
February 13, 2009
Dick Groat is known to western Pennsylvanians as a big reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates were world champions in 1960.
He was the National League’s Most Valuable Player during that magical season.
But basketball may have been his best sport. The radio commentator for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team admits that basketball was his first and perhaps deepest love.
Groat was born Nov. 4, 1930 in Wilkinsburg.
From 1956 to 1962, Groat teamed with second baseman Bill Mazeroski to give Pittsburgh one of the game’s best middle infields. He led the NL in double plays a record five times, in putouts four times and in assists twice. At the end of his career, he ranked ninth in major league history in games at shortstop (1,877) and fourth in double plays (1,237), and was among the NL career leaders in putouts (10th, 3,505), assists (8th, 5,811) and total chances (9th, 9,690).
But before all that Groat was an excellent basketball player at Duke University. He was twice an All-America and was named Helms National Player of the Year in 1952 after averaging 25.2 points per game.That mark likely would been four or five points higher had the 3-point shot and the one-and-one been in effect at the time.
Groat would spend an hour after each practice working on his individual skills. He set the NCAA for most free throws in a season.
He played one season as a guard in the National Basketball Association.
Groat was recently inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame with a group that included Arnold Palmer, Jerry West, Frank Selvy and Sam Huff.
Reporter David Burcham caught up with Groat for a question-and-answer sesssion.