A Tribute to Joe Garagiola
Photo Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame
By Nick Logerfo
Few if any have done more in a lifetime for the game of baseball than Joe Garagiola. Growing up in St. Louis Missouri, Joe was a talented catcher who drew the eyes of many major league scouts. Even with the attention as a young prospect, Garagiola always knew that he wasn’t even the best catcher on his block, living across the street from future Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. Joe would make it to the majors four months before his friend Yogi, and would have a respectable nine year playing career with the Cardinals, Pirates, Giants, and Cubs. Although he was never an all-star, he was a world series champion with the Cardinals in 1946.
In 1950, a collision on the base paths with baseball legend Jackie Robinson changed the course of Garagiola’s career. After colliding with Robinson, Joe suffered a season ending injury on his non-throwing shoulder and was forced to consider life after his playing days were over. What started as fun and games in the bullpen with his teammates eventually led to an award winning career in broadcasting.
Following his retirement from the game in 1954, he made the transition to the broadcast booth where he would stay for 57 years. During his career he would call games for the Cardinals, Yankees, Angels, and Diamondbacks, along with a 30 year run broadcasting for NBC. Aside from his baseball announcing, Garagiola was also a TV personality with “The Today Show” as well as host of several different game shows. Garagiola would make it to the Hall of Fame in 1991 winning the Ford C. Frick award for “Outstanding accomplishments in Broadcast”.
During the course of his life Joe Garagiola was an advocate against baseball’s traditional use of smokeless tobacco. He traveled around the league to spread awareness about the health effects associated with the habit. In 2014 he was honored again by the Hall of fame, this time winning the Buck O’Neil lifetime achievement award. He spoke about his life and winning the award with Nick Logerfo and Kris Venezia on WFUV, an interview that won an award from AP.
Joe Garagiola’s death comes just mere months after his lifelong friend Yogi Berra. His legacy lives on in Cooperstown as a man who truly lived a baseball life.
Click below to hear Nick's tribute to Joe Garagiola
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