Dick Groat has had a wonderful sporting life. He came to Duke in 1949 when the Blue Devils were in the Southern Conference and did as much as anyone to establish Duke basketball. His jersey was the only jersey in the Cameron rafters until Mike Gminski’s went up in 1980. He was Player of the Year in 1952 and played briefly in the NBA.
Baseball was a much better professional option then so Groat, who was also a superb shortstop, was signed by Pittsburgh’s legendary Branch Rickey and won two World Series, one with the Pirates in 1960 and one with St Louis in 1964, when he was the series MVP.
Who gets to win World Series with his hometown team? He was also baseball’s MVP in 1960.
After his career ended, he found his way to the Pitt broadcast booth where he’s covered Panthers basketball for decades.
In short, he’s had one of the great sporting lives of any American athlete: college basketball superstar and Player of the Year in 1952, College Baseball Hall of Fame, two World Series, an MVP award and one of the best, most beloved broadcasters in the business.
And now, at 89, he’s in the final stretch: he’ll retire from the Pitt booth after this season.
Pittsburgh is one of those towns that people are ferociously attached to and Groat has been a hero there for about 70 years.
He’s been gone from Duke since 1952 and a lot has changed since he was here. Duke is in the ACC now obviously which was formed the year after he left.
Some things haven’t though.
Cameron is still Cameron, and that’s what drew him to Duke. And his jersey is still in the rafters and he’s still attending at least one Duke game a year.
Duke plays Pitt on January 28th, in Cameron, and Groat will be on the call for the Panthers. This is a great chance for Duke to honor a founding father of Duke basketball. At 89, no matter how you cut it, he’s not going to be back too many times. So for this last official visit, we hope Duke showers honor and praise on Groat and treats him like the hero that he is for Duke athletics. And we hope the fans give #10 one last, ringing, deafening standing ovation.