Joe Garagiola at the 1998 Little League® International Congress in San Antonio, Texas.
Little League® International remembers former Major Leaguer, television personality, and friend of the organization, Joe Garagiola. He was 90.
A catcher for nine Major League seasons (1946 to 1954), Mr. Garagiola played for four teams — his hometown St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs, and the New York Giants. He hit 42 career home runs, drove in 255 runs, and posted a career batting average of .257.
Mr. Garagiola became a national celebrity in his post-baseball life, and is best known for anchoring NBC’s “The Today Show” for seven years, and served as host for many television shows and specials throughout his career.
Over the years, Mr. Garagiola embraced Little League, and was an avid supporter of the program. He was a guest at the 1995 Little League Baseball® International Congress in Reno, Nev., and served as the Master of Ceremonies at the 1998 Congress in San Antonio. He retired from broadcasting in 2013, last working as a color commentator for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“Little League Baseball has lost a great friend,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Joe Garagiola always gave his time and talents generously to Little League, and had a great fondness for kids playing the game he treasured so much. We remember him as an American icon and friend to Little Leaguers everywhere.”
In 1991, Mr. Garagiola received the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for his excellence in broadcasting. A featured baseball voice, he did play-by-play and analyst work on NBC’s Major League Baseball “Game of the Week” for nearly three decades, working with a variety of voices including Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, and Bob Costas.
Twelve years later, the Baseball Hall of Fame presented him with the 2013 Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the game.
Mr. Garagiola, who resided in Phoenix, is survived by his wife; Audrie; three children Joe, Jr.; Steve, and Gina; and eight grandchildren. Steve and Gina Garagiola are professionals in the broadcasting industry; and Joe Garagiola Jr. is a Major League Baseball executive.