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By Jon Weisman
Joe Garagiola, the one-time big-league catcher and longtime big-league announcer who was Vin Scully’s partner on NBC the night Kirk Gibson hit his 1988 World Series home run, passed away today at age 90.
Garagiola played in the Majors from 1946-54 and worked as a broadcaster until he was 87. He was also a frequent presence on entertainment shows, such as “To Tell the Truth” and “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” but if you’re from my generation, you remember him fundamentally for his work on NBC Game of the Week baseball broadcasts. His voice was integral to Saturday afternoons for years.
Today, Scully shared some thoughts about his former colleague.
“I was very fortunate to know and work with Joe Garagiola,” Scully said. “Boy, did he surprise me as a broadcaster. Joe was always a funny and decent man, but he was a big surprise to me. When we got together in the booth, he was very serious. The part that surprised me was how well prepared he was for each and every telecast. Joe didn’t just rely on his experience as a player, but he did his homework and all of us benefited from his knowledge and research.
“I will miss his laughter and his love for the game, but most of all I will miss a deeply religious man, who had a great sense of humor. My prayers are with Audrey and his family.”
The greatest pair, I think, ever to do baseball together on network TV.
I grew up in the 70s watching the NBC Game of the Week with Joe and Tony Kubek, and also Joe’s “Baseball World” show. Joe and Vin have always been my favorite broadcasters, and Joe really fostered my love for the game. Thanks for the memories!
Baseball fans will always remember Joe Garagiola as a player and in the broadcast booth, he’s is one of our icons. My condolences to his wife, family, friends, relatives and love ones and may he rest in peace.
By the way, in his first book, Joe talked about families and the issues they deal with and talked about seeing a young Brooklyn Dodger injured, and how he immediately could pick his wife in the stands because she was the one holding back tears and gripping her handkerchief. The young woman was named Jo Lasorda.