Richard Morrow Groat
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11½", Weight 180 lb.
- School Duke University
- High School Swissvale High School
- Debut June 18, 1952
- Final Game October 1, 1967
- Born November 4, 1930 in Wilkinsburg, PA, USA
Dick Groat, was a five-time All-Star shortstop and 1960 National League MVP who played fourteen years in the bigs, mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A rookie in 1952 who skipped the minor leagues, he also had a brief career in the NBA in 1953. He was runner-up in the 1963 NL MVP voting while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Groat was born in Wilkinsburg, PA, eight miles from Pittsburgh. He was an All-American in baseball and basketball at Duke University in 1951 and 1952, rooming with future President Richard Nixon's brother in '51. After winning the UPI National Player of the Year award that year his #10 basketball jersey was the first ever retired by the Blue Devils.
Opting to turn professional in baseball, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a 21 year-old free agent in 1952 and bypassed the minor leagues, hitting .284 in 95 games for the big league club. They were a terrible team, losing 112 games and providing more than enough fodder for catcher Joe Garagiola to pad out a best-selling book on his big league career and launch another as a baseball personality. In 1953 and 1954 Groat played in the NBA and served in the U.S. Army, performing in both sports while in the military.
He made his Pirate return in 1955, partnering with future Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski as the Buc's double play combination from 1956 until 1962. Although he never won a Gold Glove, he had excellent range, and holds the incidental distinction of making the last defensive play at the Polo Grounds vs. the New York Giants on September 29, 1957. Light hitting, he still batted for average, besting .300 three times in Pittsburgh and topping out at an NL leading .325 in 1960 – the last NL batting title by a shortstop until Hanley Ramirez in 2009.
Joining the Cardinals in 1963 he had a career year, batting an NL #3 .319 and banging out personal bests in hits (201), triples (11), RBIs (73), OBP (.377), slugging (.450), and doubles (a league leading 43). While he was at it he fielded excellently and stole a career best 3 bases, enough to earn him a 2nd place finish to Willie Mays' monster year in the '63 MVP race.
Generally slow afoot, he was still cagey on the basepaths, being called "the smartest base runner I ever met" by longtime baseball oracle and former teammate Tim McCarver (06-04-2011).
Groat played two more years in St. Louis before being dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies in late October of 1965 in a package that included another middling catcher who turned ineptitude and good humor into a career as a baseball announcer and raconteur, Bob Uecker. Groat then spent all of 1966 and part of the next with the Phils before playing out the string with the San Francisco Giants in the second half of 1967 and retiring.
After his playing days, Groat was a commentator for University of Pittsburgh basketball games (a role he still held as of 2011). Ever the two sport star, he was elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 and College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.
- 5-time NL All-Star (1959, 1960 & 1962-1964)
- NL MVP (1960)
- NL Batting Average Leader (1960)
- NL Singles Leader (1960)
- NL Doubles Leader (1963)
- Won World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1960) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1964)
|Ernie Banks||Dick Groat||Frank Robinson|
- Joseph Wancho: "Dick Groat", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 95-99. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9