HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo – – Carroll Hardy, a multisport star best known as the only man to score a hit for Ted Williams, died Sunday at the age of 87.
Hardy was also known as the football executive who helped mount the “Printed Orange” defense in Denver during the 1970s.
The University of Colorado, where Hardy was a star in three sports, said he died of complications from dementia. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Hardy continued to play baseball and professional football after playing in pursuit, baseball and football in Colorado from 1951 to ’55.
CU athletic director Rick George called Hardy “a true icon of the state. His list of accomplishments in his life and the people he touched are really second to none. We lost a great Buffalo.”;
Hardy earned a 10-letter record in the early 1950s. An honorary American mention honored in 1953 and ’54, Hardy rushed to 1,999 career yards with a crushing average of 6.87 yards per average, which remains the best in school history among players with at least 60 careers.
Hardy led the country on average starting return in 1952 and had six interceptions for the Buffaloes.
On the diamond, Hardy was the average CU career leader for all time (0.392), with 118 hits in 301 at-nude. He also had 15 homers, 80 RBIs, 107 runs scored and 45 steals.
He once ran a 9.8 on the 100 yards track on a home track.
Hardy was the 33rd overall pick in the 1955 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He averaged 28.2 yards per catch as a rookie, with 12 receptions for 338 yards and four touches.
Before reporting to the 49ers camp, Hardy signed with the Cleveland Indians and played on their A-League team in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1956, he was hitting .365 in 21 games with the Indian Triple-A team in Indianapolis when he was ordered to report to the U.S. Army.
He returned to the Indians after his two-year tour of military service. His major league career spanned a decade from 1958 to 1967, with stops in Cleveland, Boston, Houston and Minnesota.
Hardy was the only man to score for Red Sox icons Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.
“I would like people to remind me of hitting 400 home runs and a lifetime average crash of 0.305, but I did not,” Hardy once told the Denver Post. “But it’s not bad to be remembered as the only man to ever hit the hit for Ted Williams.”
Hardy’s first big league homer was a three-header for the Indians to defeat the White Sox in the late 11th in 1958. He was sent to the plate instead of Roger Maris.
Boston traded Hardy in the Colt 45s expansion in 1963, and he later joined the Twins, who sent him to their partner in Denver.
During his two-plus seasons with the Denver Bears, he began scouting for the Denver Broncos part-time in the off-season.
This led to a 24-year stay with the Broncos in a variety of roles, including assistant ticket manager, scouting director, professional personnel director and assistant general manager.
He ended his big league career with a September call-up to the Twins in 1967, then turned his full-time attention to football.
Hardy was believed to have helped build Denver’s “Orange Crush” defense that led to Bronco’s first Super Bowl appearance in 1977. That dominant defense included Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Louis Wright, Lyle Alzado, Otis Armstrong and Barney Chavous.
Hardy helped bring the Broncos’ 1986 and ’87 Super Bowl teams together before his retirement.
He was born in 1933 in Sturgis, South Dakota. He is survived by his wife of nearly 64 years, Janice Mitchell, son Jay and daughters Jill and Lisa.
With the coronavirus pandemic, funeral services will be for the family only, and a celebration of life will be held at a later date.