Joe Garagiola passed away this morning, the Diamondbacks have announced. He was 90. He is survived by his wife, three children (including Joe Garagiola Jr., the former D-backs GM) and eight grandchildren. There will be a funeral in St. Louis, and a memorial service in Arizona.
Garagiola grew up in St. Louis as a close friend of Yogi Berra, and both players made their big-league debuts as catchers in 1946 (when Garagiola played in the World Series as a rookie with the Cardinals). Garagiola played for parts of nine seasons in the big leagues, catching for the Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs and Giants before playing his last season in the big leagues in 1954. He batted .257/.354/.385 for his career.
Garagiola then went into broadcasting, first working for the Cardinals and then for NBC, where he worked alongside Vin Scully. He also served as a co-host on The Today Show, a guest host on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and as the host of a variety of game shows. After leaving NBC following the 1988 season, he broadcast for the Angels in 1990 before serving 15 years as a part-time broadcaster with the D-Backs. He received the Ford C. Frick award from the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1991.
“Joe was so special to everyone at the D-backs and had an aura about him that you could feel the moment you met him,” says Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall. “Those of us who were lucky enough to know him personally were profoundly aware that the lovable personality that fans saw on TV was only surpassed by who he was in person and the way he treated everyone around him.”