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MLB, NFL legend Carroll Hardy dies at 87

Carroll Hardy, shown in 1955, starred in football, baseball and track at Colorado before he joined the NFL and MLB and later became a front-office executive for the Denver Broncos. Photo courtesy of the University of Colorado
Carroll Hardy, shown in 1955, starred in football, baseball and track at Colorado before he joined the NFL and MLB and later became a front-office executive for the Denver Broncos. Photo courtesy of the University of Colorado

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- MLB and NFL legend Carroll Hardy, the only player to ever pinch hit for Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski, has died. He was 87.

The University of Colorado and the Denver Broncos said Hardy died Sunday of complications from dementia.

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Hardy was a three-sport athlete at Colorado before he enjoyed tenures in MLB and the NFL. He went on to become a successful executive for the Broncos and helped build Super Bowl teams in 1986 and 1987.

"I had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with Carroll several times -- what a wonderful man and a true icon in the state," Colorado athletic director Rick George said.

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"His list of accomplishments in his lifetime and the people he touched are really second to none. We have lost a great Buffalo."

Hardy played baseball, football and ran track at Colorado from 1951 to 1955. He had 1,999 career rushing yards while with the Buffaloes. He also had six interceptions on defense and once led the nation in average yards per kickoff return.

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Hardy hit .447 during his senior year for the Colorado baseball team. He also ran a 9.8-second 100-yard dash as a sprinter for Colorado's indoor track team.

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Hardy was selected by the San Francisco 49ers as the 33rd overall pick in the 1955 NFL Draft. He had 375 yards from scrimmage in 10 games for the 49ers during the 1955 season before he left the league to serve in the U.S. Army.

He played his lone NFL season alongside Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle.

He played in the Cleveland Indians minor league system for three years before he made his MLB debut in 1958. He went on to hit .225 with 17 home runs in eight seasons at the big league level.

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Hardy played for the Indians for the first two-and-a-half seasons of his career, where he also pinch hit for Roger Maris. He joined the Boston Red Sox in 1960 and became teammates with Williams and Yastrzemski.

He was traded to the Houston Colt .45s before the 1963 season and spent his final season with the Minnesota Twins in 1967.

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Hardy began to work as a scout for the Broncos while he was with the Denver Bears, a minor league affiliate of the Twins. He went on to have a 24-year tenure as a Broncos employee.

Hardy is survived by his wife, Janice Mitchell, son Jay and daughters Jill and Lisa.

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