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Carroll Hardy dies at 87

December 21, 2020 by

Carroll Hardy, who was a three-sport star at Colorado, played in the NFL and Major League Baseball and worked for the Broncos for nearly a quarter century, passed away Sunday, August 9, 2020 at the age of 87 from complications due to dementia.

Hardy was a member of the Sports Halls of Fame in Colorado and his home state of South Dakota. He lettered 10 times at CU from 1951-55 in football (running back), baseball (center fielder) and track (broad jump) and averaged 6.9 yards per rushing attempt in football and hit .392 in baseball.

“I had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with Carroll several times — what a wonderful man and a true icon in the state,” CU athletic director Rick George said in a statement. “His list of accomplishments in his lifetime and the people he touched are really second-to-nose. We have lost a great Buffalo.”

Hardy rushed for 1,999 yards at CU, which ranks 20th in school history. He scored on his first touch, a 12-yard run in a 1951 win over Colorado A&M, and in his final game, he rushed 10 times for 238 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Kansas State.

As a CU baseball player, his average was the all-time school record for players with at least 200 at-bats and he batted .447 as a senior.

Frank Bernardi was a baseball teammate of Hardy’s at CU.

“He was obviously one heckuva an athlete and though we were always competing against each other, we became very close, not only on the field but off as well,” Bernardi said in a statement. “I valued his friendship. … We always tried to out-do each other in baseball, which was good because it made us even more competitive. It made us perform our best.”

Hardy was named to CU’s All-Century Football Team in 1989 and inducted to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

After college, Hardy signed contracts with the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Indians.

In ’55, Hardy played 10 games for the 49ers as a receiver (Y.A. Tittle was his quarterback), catching 12 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns. He elected to concentrate on baseball, citing the possibility of a longer career, following one NFL season.

Hardy debuted for the Indians on April 15, 1958 against the Kansas City A’s.

Hardy played in 433 major league games over eight years for Cleveland, Boston, Houston and Minnesota, batting .225 (17 home runs/113 runs batted in). His first home run was as a pinch-hitter for Roger Maris.

One of his claims to fame came in 1960 when he became the first and only man to pinch-hit for Ted Williams, who had fouled a ball off his foot. Hardy hit into a double play.

Hardy was back in Colorado in 1965 playing for the Triple-A Denver Bears for parts of four years. During that time, he began working part-time for the Broncos as an assistant ticket manager.

During 24 years with the Broncos, he held a variety of titles. In 1977, he was promoted from director of scouting to director of player personnel by new general manager Fred Gehrke. The Broncos reached their first Super Bowl.

Hardy was later director of scouting, college scouting and combine scouting. He retired after the 1987 season to Steamboat Springs before moving to Longmont and eventually Wind Crest Senior Community in Highlands Rach.

Hardy is survived by his wife, Janice, who would have celebrated their 64th anniversary on Saturday, and three kids.

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