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Joe Garagiola

  • Birthplace: St Louis, Missouri
  • Birthday: February 12
Date of passing: 
March 23, 2016

Obituary

Obituary: 

Joe Garagiola was a professional baseball player who enjoyed greater success as a television personality and broadcaster, including a stint as a host of Today, NBC’s long-running morning franchise. 

Garagiola grew up in St. Louis, in the Italian neighborhood known as the Hill. His best friend and neighbor was another ballplayer, future New York Yankee great Yogi Berra.

Joe Garagiola was a professional baseball player who enjoyed greater success as a television personality and broadcaster, including a stint as a host of Today, NBC’s long-running morning franchise. 

Garagiola grew up in St. Louis, in the Italian neighborhood known as the Hill. His best friend and neighbor was another ballplayer, future New York Yankee great Yogi Berra.

At age 16, Garagiola — who, like Berra, played catcher — signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He made his major league debut in 1946 and achieved his career highlight the same year, when he hit .316 in the World Series, in which the Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox.

In a career that lasted nine years, he also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and New York Giants.

Garagiola’s transition to broadcasting was spurred by an appearance before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on monopoly practices in April 1954, while he was playing for the Cubs. His occasionally wiseacre testimony drew media attention, and afterward he was offered a radio job with the Cardinals.

His easygoing nature and quick but nonthreatening wit made him a natural as a broadcaster, and in the years that followed he developed into a national figure, working not only in sports but across the media landscape. Although he continued to cover baseball — and won a Peabody Award in 1973 for the NBC pregame show, The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola — he covered myriad topics on Today and hosted such game shows as To Tell the Truth and He Said, She Said.

In 1991 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame’s broadcasters’ wing as a recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. He retired from broadcasting in 2013. The same year, the Baseball Hall of Fame honored him with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the game.

He also received two Emmy nominations in 1976  — one for outstanding sports personality, and the other for outstanding edited sports series.

Garagiola died March 23, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 90.

 

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