(BaseballStL) — No one was more excited and grateful for Monday’s celebration of the 1964 World Series championship than Dick Groat.
Now 83, Groat played 161 games at shortstop for the 1964 Cardinals, batting .292 and named to the All-Star team.
“When you go through a pennant race together, you are close to those guys forever. We get together and the stories start coming,” he laughed.
Groat’s most vivid memory of the magical season was the determination of that team. “The comebacks are what I remember the most, the way the guys just didn’t quit. We won every single close game we had to win down the stretch until we got to New York,” said Groat, his crystalline memories including who pitched against them and the score of those tight, tough ball games.
“I remember we lost a tough game to the Mets 2-1 but thank God the Phillies woke up and beat Cincinnati twice or we would have had a play-off with the Reds,” he said.
“There was a lot of pressure but we had Bob Uecker and Tim McCarver keeping us loose and we were always cracking jokes. It was just that kind of team.”
Even now, 50 years later, Groat remains in awe of Cardinal great Bob Gibson. “I told him that playing behind him was a thrill. He was the greatest competitor I’ve ever played with or against.”
Groat lives in Pittsburgh and still announces the University of Pittsburgh basketball games. “I was much better at that sport than I ever was at baseball,” he said. “I still play a little.”
“These reunions means so much to me. At my age I don’t know when I’ll ever see these guys again. The only thing I’m disappointed at is how certain guys aren’t here, like Curt Flood, Bill White, Roger Craig. To win a pennant and a World Series is a 25-man deal. Everybody contributed something to that team. And I was lucky. I was on two different teams that beat the Yankees in the World Series (the other being the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates who also defeated the Yankees in seven games). When you go through an experience like that with a bunch of guys, it changes you. It’s an experience like none other.”