Joe Garagiola, a Major League ballplayer who later found his calling on TV, has died. The New York Times reports that Garagiola died Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 90.
Garagiola’s nine-year career as a catcher in the big leagues, in which he played for the Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs and Giants in the 1940s and 1950s, was overshadowed by his later impact as a broadcaster, and Garagiola himself often joked about his modest achievements on the field. But he transitioned successfully to a second career in television, where he became a household name.
He was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 for his broadcasting achievements, one of numerous awards he chalked up during his career. Others included a Peabody Award, bestowed in 1973 for his work with NBC, and induction into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2004.
Garagiola was with NBC for 30 years, including a couple of stints on the “Today” show starting in 1967. He also filled in on occasion as guest host for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.”
He was a big part of the network’s baseball coverage, doing color commentary and play-by-play for years and sharing the booth with partners including Tony Kubek and Vin Scully.
Garagiola also appeared on a number of TV game shows, including “He Said, She Said,” “Joe Garagiola’s Memory Game,” Sale of the Century” and “To Tell the Truth.”
After leaving NBC in 1988, Garagiola took on a variety of broadcasting jobs, including working with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where his son, Joe Garagiola Jr., was general manager from 1998 to 2012. For one season, 1990, Garagiola was an announcer for the Angels, then known as the California Angels.
The elder Garagiola also ventured into a new arena with a long run as co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on the USA Network from 1994-2002.
Here’s a clip from an appearance in 1993 by Garagiola with David Letterman …