Dickson: A tribute to Joe Garagiola in his own words

From Paul Dickson at The National Pastime Museum on January 3, 2017:

When Joe Garagiola died on March 23, 2016, at the age of 90, his many obituary writers were torn between two choices when writing their lead: was he a baseball player who later became a major television personality, or was he a television star who also played Major League baseball? It was a classic toss-up and the kind of dilemma that Garagiola himself would have found worthy of a quick self-effacing remark.

Joseph Henry Garagiola was born in St. Louis on February 12, 1926. He and his childhood friend, Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, both went on to play in the Major Leagues. As a 20-year-old rookie playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, he first made headlines when he drove in two of the four runs off Ralph Branca in the opener of the 1946 playoff series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the ensuing World Series he recorded six hits and four RBIs on 19 plate appearances. It would be his only trip to the World Series as a player. In all, Garagiola played with four teams: the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and New York Giants.

Garagiola’s path from journeyman catcher to broadcaster began near the end of his playing career, in 1954, when he was with the Chicago Cubs. That year he joined other players in testifying before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in hearings regarding baseball’s antitrust exemption. Chairman Senator Edwin Johnson was holding the hearings and asked Garagiola whether baseball owners might have “tampered” with his play in order to lure him to another team. He replied, “Senator, how can you tamper with a .250 hitter?” His actual batting average over a nine-year career was .257.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/tribute-joe-garagiola-his-own-words

Originally published: January 3, 2017. Last Updated: January 3, 2017.