Joe Garagiola may have been the only lifetime .257 hitter to become a household name. For those of us who grew up in the 1960’s, ’70’s or ’80’s, Joe was a Saturday morning staple, along with our Captain Crunch. His folksy demeanor on NBC’s game of the week – either with sidekick Tony Kubek, or as sidekick to Curt Gowdy, Bob Costas or Vin Scully – made us feel like we were just talking baseball with a friend. When he died yesterday, a little piece of baseball’s core went with him. Joe was the right man for his era – a simpler time. Can you imagine him surviving in today’s system of prepackaged broadcasters who often seem to be auditioning for a comedy club or another network? Joe’s humor was genuine – a part of his nature, which always seemed to be good. For all the high tech elements that make our view of the game today so incredible, it feels as though we’ve lost some of the simplicity that tied us to why we first loved the game. Just a boy and his dad playing catch. While you may or may not miss Joe G today, I do find myself missing the simpler age of baseball that he helped make so enjoyable.
“Not only was I not the best catcher in the Major Leagues, I wasn’t even the best catcher on my street.” – Joe Garagiola on growing up with Yogi Berra