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Duke Legend Dick Groat Dies At 92

Pittsburgh v Duke
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 04: Pitt radio analyst and former Duke basketball player Dick Groat poses for a photo prior to the game between the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 4, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

For years, until Mike Kryzyzewski took over, the only retired jersey in Cameron Indoor Stadium was #10, which was worn by Dick Groat, who graduated in 1952.

He was a superb athlete, to say the least. Groat was also a brilliant shortstop who was a five-time All-Star. He also had two World Series rings.

Sadly, Groat suffered a stroke recently and passed away Thursday. He had a major impact at Duke and an even bigger one in Pennsylvania.

Groat came to Duke in 1948, lured, he said, by Cameron, which was then still new and a colossal arena by the standards of that day.

He led the nation in points (26.0) and assists (7.6) in 1950-51 and we’re not sure if anyone else has ever done that. He did as much as anyone to help make Cameron what it ultimately became.

He was drafted #3 by the Pistons, then in Fort Wayne, but the NBA was only five years old at the time and was no sure thing to make it. Salaries were quite low too. George Mikan’s first NBA contract was for just $12,000 and Bill Russell’s, in 1957, was for roughly double that. It was a lot more money then than it is now, but baseball paid more, so Groat pragmatically picked his second favorite sport and achieved greatness there too.

Several years after his MLB career ended, Pitt offered him a job with its basketball radio team and he spent decades working as the color man for the Panthers. In fact, if we’re not mistaken, one of his very early games was quite memorable as Pitt came to Cameron in 1979, Groat’s first season on air and he got to see 6-7, 288 lb. Sam Clancy just beat Mike Gminski senseless in the post. It was one of the greatest performances ever by a visitor to Cameron.

Groat stayed on air with the Panthers until 2019, giving him a third spectacular career.

Aside from his obvious talents, Groat had another special quality: from all accounts, he was deeply humble and unpretentious. As you browse the links below, you’ll see the love people had for the man. His athletic accomplishments would have earned him a significant send off when this day came, but his character meant that he was not just appreciated for his superb athletic talents but for his kindness and innate decency.

Dick Groat, dead at 92. Godspeed.

Correction - Dick Groat’s jersey was not the only one hanging when Coach K arrived in Durham. Mike Gminski’s #43 was retired at the end of his stellar Duke career in 1980. Krzyzewski was hired a few weeks later.