Former outfielder and longtime Denver Broncos executive Carroll Hardy died on Sunday due to complications with dementia, according to the Denver Post.
He was 87.
Hardy was a three-sport letter winner at Colorado, playing football, baseball and track from 1951-55. He ran for nearly 2,000 career yards as a running back with the Buffaloes, averaging 6.87 yards per carry. He then spent one season as a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers — who took him No. 33 overall in the 1955 draft — where he racked up 338 yards and four touchdowns on 12 receptions. After that season, however, Hardy made the switch to baseball.
He struck a deal with Cleveland and spent one season with their Triple-A affiliate before he left to serve in the U.S. Army.
He made his MLB debut in 1958, and spent eight seasons in the league with the Indians, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins. He is known as the only man to pinch-hit for Ted Williams, per the report, and hit a double when he did so in 1960.
"I'd like to have people remember me for hitting 400 home runs and a lifetime batting average of .305, but I didn't do that," Hardy once told the Denver Post, via the Broncos. "But it's not bad being remembered as the only man to ever pinch-hit for Ted Williams."
It wasn’t until he was back in Colorado in 1965 that Hardy found his way back to the NFL. While playing with the Triple-A Denver Bears, he started working with the Broncos as a ticket manager. He remained with the organization for 24 years, working as a scouting director, the director of player personnel and assistant general manager.
He helped build the “Orange Crush” defense, which helped them reach the Super Bowl for the first time in the 1977 season. He retired after the 1987 season, having reached the Super Bowl twice more.
Hardy is survived by his wife, Janice, and their three children. The couple, per the report, would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Saturday.
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