Dick Groot, H.; John and I | News, sports, jobs

Written by John Ivota

Edited by Pete Adler, (Jones’ outdated buddy)

Dick Groot lately celebrated his 92nd birthday and triggered a reminiscence of an encounter I as soon as had with him. Grote was an All-American basketball participant at Duke College within the Fifties who turned captain of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the Nationwide League MVP for the Pirates within the 1960 World Collection season.

Grote is just one of twelve gamers in league historical past to play in each the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation and Main League Baseball. Michael Jordan tried however received no farther than Double-A Birmingham. It’s rarefied air.

After the 1979 World Collection, the Pirates fell on arduous instances. In 1984 they received simply 75 video games and adopted up in 85 with a paltry 57 wins. Attendance dropped beneath 800,000, a mean of lower than 9,900 followers per sport in a stadium of greater than 47,000 baseball followers. To entice season ticket holders, the Pirates advertising and marketing gurus determined to carry a reception for the highest gamers, providing good foods and drinks together with the possibility to fulfill many gamers from the glory days of the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies.

my buddy, h. John “Herbie” Rogers, he noticed this as a possibility for the 2 of us to get out of city and meet a few of our heroes. Herb referred to as the Pirates entrance workplace and listed our credentials as executives of the fictional Wetzel County Coal Firm. The grasp of the larks was like that. We certain received our invitations.

The occasion was held within the locker room at Three Rivers Stadium and, as hoped, a lot of my childhood heroes have been current. Matches properly with the Nineteen Seventies Soviet type playgrounds and wasn’t luxurious. I keep in mind it was concrete, chilly, and one thing that might be simply cleaned with a hose. There have been in all probability 25 potential season ticket patrons not counting the scammers from Wetzel County.

Elroy Face who in 1959 received eighteen matches whereas shedding solely as soon as was a spinner. Bob Buddy, who led the 1960 crew in video games and began innings, whereas successful 18 video games, began within the outfield. There was Corridor of Famer and 60 Collection Champion Invoice Mazeroski. They have been just some of the celebrities that I keep in mind.

I talked about politics with Buddy who was elected Superintendent of Allegheny County in 1967, listened to Face inform me about low season carpentry jobs and partnered with Maz at Ohio Valley areas. These guys got here from a extra humble period when most gamers have been nonetheless working within the low season and so they could not have been extra approachable. it was a dream. The meals was plentiful, the drinks for the adults have been flowing and my heroes could not be extra beneficiant.

Every little thing was going properly once I noticed Dick Groot throughout the room. He was not an imposing determine. He regarded like a standard outdated man to me, receding hairline and all. Fueled by the pretend liquor, I made my option to the person whose baseball card was in my again pocket.

Earlier within the day, in plain view and good intentions, I had ready a query for Groat he had in all probability by no means heard of, and one to indicate how intelligent I used to be. As ordinary, I used to be very intelligent by half and had underestimated how a person who had been watching a number of sliding cleats from a runner to second base, making an attempt to get him out whereas working a double play, would deal with such a idiot as I’m.

Dick in his cups was fairly good once I requested my query: Who was the worst bowler you ever hit? Inside a nanosecond, he lunged at me. I do not keep in mind if he threw a punch however let’s simply say he tried. Amongst us are just a few outdated Buccos and I saved a tooth I nonetheless have. Somebody steered I get as far-off from the Captain as attainable. It was good recommendation. Herb had snicker, and as he used to do, by no means let me neglect what a wimp I used to be.

On my manner residence, I questioned what had triggered the temptation. I used to be simply asking a query. Then someday he hit me. Think about {that a} Greek citizen stooped to Achilles and requested him who was his much less spectacular opponent. Achilles had rapidly dispatched him. Grote knew that the worst participant he had ever confronted within the American League was higher at what he did than I had ever been. His lunge at me was defending the elite fraternity honor that belonged to him from guys like those who have been fortunate sufficient to hit 200 within the little league. was justified.

Nonetheless, yearly when his birthday comes round, I’m wondering if this would be the yr I can stand as much as him and take him out. Then, I feel it is higher than that. No, not this yr however perhaps subsequent.

Edited by my outdated buddy Pete Adler!

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