Former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Dick Groat, who won two World Series championships during his Major League Baseball career and also played one season in the National Basketball Association, died on Thursday at the age of 92, local Pittsburgh ABC affiliate WTAE reported.
According to his family, Groat passed away at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital due to complications from a stroke he had suffered recently, and just days after it had been announced that he would be an inductee into the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame later this year.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Groat was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area but attended college at Duke University, where he was an All-American athlete in both baseball and basketball.
After his stellar college career ended, Groat was drafted by professional teams in both sports in 1952, including the MLB's Pirates and the NBA's then-Ft. Wayne Pistons -- one of only 13 athletes to ever compete in both leagues.
While at Duke, he was named National Player of the Year when he led all of college basketball in scoring and assists, and he was the first player at that school to have his jersey number retired. He still ranks second all-time at Duke for career points per game.
In 2007, Groat was informed by then-Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski that he had been inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2011, he was also inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.
"The world lost an absolute treasure with the passing of Dick Groat, a historically significant athlete, and even better person," Coach K said in a statement, according to WTAE. "As much as our family appreciated his marvelous basketball and baseball career, we admired how he carried himself after it ended even more."
Groat was mostly known for his baseball career, however, which began in 1952 but then skipped two years while he served in the U.S. Army before resuming in 1955 and continuing until he retired in 1967.
He played for the Pirates until he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1963, then played briefly for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1966 before concluding his career with the San Francisco Giants, according to MLB.com.
Groat's career stats were not particularly stunning, but his defensive work and ability to turn double-plays from the shortstop position garnered him eight All-Star Game appearances in five years and rendered him a local legend. He also was named the National League MVP in 1960 and won two World Series championships, the first in 1960 with the Pirates and then again in 1964 with the Cardinals.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of such a beloved member of the Pirates family and Pittsburgh community," Pirates franchise owner Bob Nutting said in a statement, according to the Post-Gazette. "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," Nutting added. "Our thoughts go out to his three daughters, 11 grandchildren, and the entire Groat family. His was a life well-lived. He will be missed."
Nearly a decade after the end of his playing days, Groat became a radio announcer and analyst for the University of Pittsburgh basketball team, a position he held from 1979 until 2019 alongside fellow broadcaster Bill Hillsgrove.
"As great of a sports legend as Dick was, he was a better human being," Hillgrove told the Post-Gazette. "I think his humility stood out above everything. If anybody should’ve been carried away with himself, it was Dick Groat. He’s obviously, to me, the best athlete our state has ever produced. As many great athletes as Pennsylvania has produced, none played two sports at the highest level, except Dick. He was a very special friend. I lost a big brother."