Former ballplayer, sportscaster Joe Garagiola dead at age 90

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2016 5:28 PM

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Former Major League catcher Joe Garagiola, who enjoyed a long career as a sports announcer and television host after his retirement from baseball, died on Wednesday at the age of 90.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of this amazing man who was not just beloved by those of us in his family, but to generations of baseball fans who he impacted during his eight decades in the game," his family said in a statement released by the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.

Garagiola was born in 1926 and grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in St. Louis across the street from childhood friend Yogi Berra.

Although not becoming a star like Berra, a fellow catcher who had a Hall of Fame career with the New York Yankees, Garagiola played nine seasons with four Major League teams. In his rookie season in 1946, he won a World Series championship with his hometown Cardinals.

Following his athletic career, he spent decades as a broadcaster, announcing baseball games on radio and television. He also did two stints as a co-host on NBC's "Today" Show and appeared on other NBC programs.

He was honored with the Ford C. Frick broadcasters award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

The team said Garagiola, who died in Scottsdale, Arizona, was survived by his wife, Audrie, and three children, Steven, Gina and Joe Jr., who served as the general manager for the Diamondbacks from 1997 to 2005.

A funeral service will be held in St. Louis, the team said.

(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Curtis Skinner; Editing by G Crosse and Peter Cooney)