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Ex-Pirate, golf course owner Lynch dies

For years, former Pirates Jerry Lynch and Dick Groat were business partners. On Sunday, Groat mourned the loss of his "dear friend."

"He was the best. We were partners in business for over 60 years," Groat said of Lynch, who died early yesterday at an Atlanta hospital. He was 81.

No cause of death was revealed. Groat said Lynch, an outfielder who spent two stints with the Pirates and once held the major league record for career pinch-hit home runs, had been ailing since October.

"My first thought was there's no finer person that walked on the face of the earth than Jerry Lynch," Groat said. "No questions asked, he went straight to heaven. He was a great father and a great competitor."

Born July 17, 1930, in Bay City, Mich., Lynch played for the Pirates from 1954-56 and 1963-66. At the time of his retirement from Major League Baseball in 1966, Lynch's 18 career pinch-hit home runs were a record. He currently ranks third all-time.

After his playing days, Lynch was an ownership partner with Groat at Champion Lakes Golf Course in Bolivar in Westmoreland County. He had been in and out of the hospital lately with various ailments, Groat said. He previously had undergone heart bypass surgery.

"In 1955, we just became great friends when we were playing together with the Pirates," said Groat, the 1960 National League MVP as a shortstop who also managed an apartment complex with Lynch and former Pirates pitcher Ron Kline in Wilkinsburg before Groat and Lynch began their golf course venture.

In between his Pirates stints, Lynch played for the Cincinnati Reds after former Pirates general manager Joe Brown placed him on the unrestricted list in 1956 and the Reds drafted him. Lynch remained with Cincinnati until he was traded back to the Pirates in 1963 for outfielder Bob Skinner.

"Jerry was a good player and a good person. He was a great friend of mine," Groat said. "I'm just sorry to hear of this. My heart goes out to his family."

Lynch, whose 116 career pinch hits are 10th-most in MLB history, was a member of the Reds' 1961 National League pennant-winning team. He also was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1988.

Lynch played 13 seasons and batted .277 with 115 home runs and 470 RBI.

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