Well, another piece of my childhood disappeared. On Wednesday, legendary baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola retired from the booth at the age of 87 after a 58 year career behind the microphone. Garagiola spent the last 15 seasons calling select games for the Arizona Diamondbacks and I have to say that it was a pleasure to listen to him once again after not hearing him announce a baseball game for over 20 years. In 1991, Garagiola was honored by the Hall of Fame by receiving the Ford Frick award for broadcast excellence. It was a much-deserved honor for one of the game’s great treasures.
Many people may not realize that Yogi Berra grew up on the same street as Joe and when both were younger, Garagiola was considered by Major League scouts as the better prospect at catcher. He played for four teams over the course of nine seasons appearing in a total of 676 games before calling it quits in 1954. There was a bright spot for Joe as he went 6 for 19 in the 1946 World Series as his St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox in seven games. Most of us know him as one of the voices for NBC baseball, both on television and the radio from 1961 through 1988. When you heard Vin Scully and Garagiola were calling the Saturday Game of the Week, you knew it was a big game. It was also like listening to baseball heaven with the incomparable Scully and the witty Garagiola interweaving stories and game analysis that made you hope the game they were covering would last 15 innings. Joe worked two of the most memorable Fall Classics as an announcer, the 1975 classic between the Sox and Cincinnati Reds and the 1986 Boston-New York Mets showdown. Perhaps it was the curse of Garagiola instead of the Bambino that doomed Boston all of those years.
For a few games per season, fans of the D’backs were treated to a legend in the booth. I would like to know if Scully and Garagiola called an inning or two for old times sake when Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers would play each other. I am glad I got to hear an old friend in 2012 even it was only three or four times. Hopefully Joe can make some appearances around Chase Field in 2013. It would be nice if he can call one last inning before riding off into the sunset.
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