joe garagiola, 1952 bowman #27, pirates

Player: Garagiola, Joe

Card: 1952 Bowman #27

Position: C

One thing you learned as a Cubs fan: when you bought your ticket, you could bank on seeing the bottom of the ninth.” – Joe Garagiola

Joseph Henry Garagiola Sr. was an American professional baseball catcher, later an author, announcer and television host, popular for his colorful personality.

A man who always had an anecdote on deck, (Joe) Garagiola recognized that baseball is a funny game. Indeed, he used that phrase as the title of the first of three books he authored. A good portion of his humor was self-deprecating. Speaking in Washington, D.C., in 1970, he noted, ‘It’s not a record, but being traded four times when there are only eight teams in the league tells you something. I thought I was modeling uniforms for the National League.‘” – By Marty Noble / MLB.com (03/23/2016, ‘Baseball, broadcasting legend Garagiola dies,’

Joe played nine seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and New York Giants. He was later well known outside baseball for having been one of the regular panelists on The Today Show for many years and for his numerous appearances on game shows as a host and panelist.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Garagiola grew up on Elizabeth Avenue in an Italian-American neighborhood in the south part of the city known as The Hill, just across the street from Yogi Berra, his childhood friend. About growing up living across from Berra, he often quipped, “Not only was I not the best catcher in the Major Leagues, I wasn’t even the best catcher on my street!

As a rookie in 1946, in his only World Series appearance, Garagiola batted 6-for-19 in five games, including a Game 4 where he went 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

He once told this story himself: “He knew that it was time to retire when he was catching, and his ex-teammate Stan Musial stepped into the batter’s box, turned to Joe, and said, “When are you gonna quit?”” After his retirement from baseball, Joe lent his name to a 1960 book “Baseball Is a Funny Game“, which sold well upon release and helped establish him as a “personality.” Garagiola also wrote “It’s Anybody’s Ballgame” (1988) and “Just Play Ball” (2007). Garagiola turned to broadcasting following his retirement as a player, first calling Cardinals radio broadcasts on KMOX from 1955 to 1962.

Joe had multiple other broadcasting appearances, including occasionally guest-hosting The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, game-show hosting and appearances, and hosting the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for USA Network from 1994 to 2002.

He won the Peabody Award in 1973 for his pre-game broadcast, “Joe Garagiola’s World of Baseball,” and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Broadcast wing after receiving the Ford C. Frick Award in 1991. He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

Joe also was the 2014 recipient of the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, presented once every three years by the Baseball Hall of Fame for positive contributions to Major League Baseball.

(excerpted from SABR, Baseball Almanac, BR Bullpen & Wikipedia)

1952 Topps #227
2009 Italian American Baseball Heroes #50
2012 Panini Golden Age #13

Listen to Larry Baldassaro’s interview with Joe Jr. here about his Dad – or view the Next Stop on the Baseball Italian Style Tour


Garagiola is part of the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame Tour – Go to the Next Stop


Joe is part of the St. Louis Cardinals Players Tour – Go to the Next Stop


Joe is also part of the Pittsburgh Pirates Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop


Joe is also part of the Chicago Cubs Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop


Joe is also part of the New York/SF Giants Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop


See all of Joe’s baseball cards at TCDB


Visit a random Italian American MLB player:

Tony Rensa: 6 year MLB career, MiLB manager

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