Monday, March 25, 2013

1954 BOWMAN JOE GARAGIOLA


NEVER TOOK HIMSELF TOO SERIOUSLY.



TOO BAD JOE AND YOGI NEVER DID GAMES TOGETHER IN THE BOOTH.


THE FRONT PAGE

  • Folksy and witty Joe Garagiola provided the color commentary of my youth, with an assist from Mel Allen of This Week in Baseball. Teaming with Curt Gowdy and later Tony Kubek in the 1970s for The Game of the Week, Garagiola was part of the only program that could pull me inside for a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon. Listening to him was as comfortable as slipping into Hot Wheels PJs and sipping hot cocoa before bedtime.
  • Garagiola, a catcher for nine unspectacular seasons, managed to leave his mark on baseball as a play-by-play man and color commentator, earning the Ford Frick Award and a spot in the broadcasting wing of the Hall of Fame. 

THE BACK PAGE

  • Not a whole more to add here. Bowman knew how to write these player summations.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Great photo of Joe, who always struck me as the eternal kid.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • This was the last card of Garagiola; the Cubs waived him late in the '54 season and the Giants picked him up. He retired after the season.
  • Garagiola began announcing the next year. I have three vivid memories of his time behind the mike:
  • His interview with Gary Carter, when I first "met'' the Expos catcher on The Game of the Week in the late '70s. I remember Carter's smile and thinking how happy he looked to be a major-leaguer.
  • In '88, Garagiola was calling a game involving the Astros, and he was talking up rookie catcher Craig Biggio, prediciting big things from him. That was my introduction to the rookie. As a former catcher, I guess Joe knew a future star when he saw one.
  • Around that same time, Pirates acrobatic second baseman Jose Lind jumped over a standing and smiling Garagiola in a Game of the Week pre-game stunt.
  • After calling the '88 World Series with Vin Scully, Garagiola left NBC after failing to reach a new contract. He did some TV for the Angels and then some color for the Diamondbacks, where his son was GM. 
  • Retired from broadcasting on Feb. 22 at age 87.
  • In addition to baseball announcing, he hosted The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson, The Today Show, game shows and The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
  • Garagiola doing the dog show gig always seemed weird to me. Instead of hearing him say things like, "Nolan Ryan is pitching much better now that he has his curveball straightened out,'' you got "Looks like Rumpus, Bumpus is creating a ruckus out there.'' 
  • While nobody would confuse him with Ted Williams, Garagiola got the best of The Splendid Splinter in the '46 World Series. Garagiola, a rookie, batted 6-for-19 in five games, including 4-for-5 with three RBI in Game 4. He never lived up to that performance.

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