C 1946-54 Cardinals , Pirates, Cubs, Giants
The jokes in Garagiola's best-seller, Baseball Is a Funny Game (1960), helped
foster his image as a marginal player. In truth, his career was no joke. Signed by
the Cardinals' Branch Rickey for $500 off the sandlots of St. Louis, Garagiola (Yogi
Berra's boyhood pal) began his pro baseball career at 16. After two years in the
minors and two in the military, the catcher reported to the Cardinals in 1946. In
the opening game of the '46 playoffs, Garagiola's three hits and two RBI helped the
Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Dodgers. In the World Series with Boston, he collected
six hits, including four in Game Four.
In mid-June of 1950, Garagiola was hitting
.347. During a game against the Dodgers, he laid down a bunt and raced to first.
Brooklyn second baseman Jackie Robinson went to take the throw, but had trouble finding
the bag with his foot. Garagiola, trying to avoid colliding with Robinson, broke
stride and fell. He suffered a shoulder separation, caught only 30 games that year,
and was traded to the Pirates in 1951. He played in a career-high 118 games and hit
.273 for the last-place Pirates in 1952.
His broadcasting career began in 1955
with the Cardinals. In 1961 he began working for NBC's
"Major League Baseball," where
he continued until the end of 1988. In 1965 he replaced Mel Allen on Yankee broadcasts,
then in 1969 moved to hosting NBC's daily "Today Show" until 1973. He remains a national
celebrity known for one-liners, reminiscences of his days as a Pirate, and Yogi Berra
anecdotes. His first book, Baseball Is a Funny Game, remains one of the best-selling baseball book ever.
|FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY|
|» October 1, 1946: In the first ever National League playoff before 26,012 at Ebbets Field the Dodgers manage just three hits off Howie Pollet and lose 4–2. Joe Garagiola's three hits pace the Cardinals as they beat Ralph Branca. |
» October 10, 1946: Enos Slaughter, Whitney Kurowski, and Joe Garagiola each have four hits, and Al Brazle pitches a 12–3 complete game win. The Cards tie a World Series record by racking up 20 hits.
» June 1, 1950: Marty Marion, Sid Gordon, and Hank Thompson hit grand slams for the Cards (5–2 over Brooklyn), the Braves (14–2 over the Pirates), and the Giants (8–7 in the first of two at Cincinnati) respectively. Gordon adds a second homer as he drives home seven runs for Boston, winners over the Pirates, 10–6. The Cards lose the services of C Joe Garagiola, who separates his shoulder after tripping over Jackie Robinson covering 1B, and Tommy Glaviano, who sprains his ankle. Hitting .347 at the time, Garagiola won't return until September 3 (as noted by Bill Deane) and will hit only 2-for-13 the rest of the season. But the grand slam, the first in Marion's 11-year-career, moves the Birds into a tie for first place with the Dodgers.
» June 15, 1951: Pittsburgh sends Cliff "no hit" Chambers and OF Wally Westlake to the Cards for C Joe Garagiola, P Howie Pollet, P Ted Wilks, OF Bill Howerton, and 2B Dick Cole.
» June 4, 1953:
Pittsburgh trades OF Ralph Kiner, along with C Joe Garagiola, P Howie Pollet, and OF Catfish Metkovich to Chicago (NL) for C Toby Atwell, P Bob Schultz, 1B Preston Ward, 3B George Freese, OF Bob Addis, OF
Gene Hermanski, and $150,000.