The three sport athlete, today it doesn't really exist does it ?? Maybe two, but three ?? If it happens, it's a rarity. Back in the day, it was a regularity. And no athlete did it better at UConn then Moosup's own, Walt Dropo. And end in Football, a solid forward in basketball and a first baseman on the diamond.
His parents came here from Yugoslavia. His father worked in the local mill and kept the family farm going with three sons who all played as many sports as possible...Spending a lot of time playing sandlot baseball....After a successful career at Plainfield H.S., where here and his older brother Milton helped lead them to a state championship, they both attended the University of Connecticut. Of course World War II interrupted their stay in Storrs, but returned post war. Walt was staged in Europe as a combat engineer.
This strapping hulk of a man, 6-5, 220 could do it all. An end for JO Christian's Football Team....Basketball ? Dominant averaging just shy of 21ppg in 41 games during his three year stint on the hardwood. It remains the second highest career average to this day. Only Wes Bialosuknia's 23.6 is higher...And he wore #9..But his true love and passion was playing baseball. Now the UConn Media Guide only indicates he played baseball. And in his senior year of 1947, the Husky 9 went 13-5. The 13 wins at the time a program best that was duplicated in 1948.
Dropo had options when it came to professional sports..In 1946, Dropo was drafted in the 9th round by the NFL Chicago Bears. In 1947, The Providence Steamrollers of the BAA (now the NBA) made him the 4th overall pick in their 1947 draft. But Dropo chose baseball and signed an amateur contract with the Boston Red Sox. And in 1950, his rookie year in Boston, he went off. In 136 games, Dropo hit .322, had 34 homers and drove in a league best 144 rbi...Not to mention lead the American League in total bases with 326. It earned him AL Rookie of the Year...
Following a wrist injury, the Sox traded him to Detroit in 1952...Where during his stint as a Tiger, recorded a 12 for 12 string and 16 hits in a four game span...tying major league records. Following the 52' season, he was never the power hitter he was in his first three seasons. Over 13 major league campagins, Dropo had a .270 lifetime average, playing for 5 different teams prior to retiring in 1961 after a three year run in Baltimore.
Dropo returned to New England and joined the family fireworks business. In Moosup, they named a street in his honor. And on December 17, 2010, Moose passed away of natural causes at the age of 87 in his home in Peabody,Mass. However he was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Plainfield.
Maybe the only UConn athlete that compares to Dropo might be Scott Burrell, who was a great three sport athlete at Hamden HS, but only played hoops at UConn...Walt Dropo, The Moose...A UConn Legend