Joe Garagiola passed away yesterday at age 90. He played for four big league teams during his career, but he is best known for his work as a broadcaster. Garagiola has a spot on the St. Louis Walk of Fame and is a cherished baseball personality. Winning Streak would like to take a moment to reflect on some interesting facts about Garagiola’s eventful life. Here are four things you didn’t know about the late great Joe Garagiola.
He Interviewed The Beatles on the Tonight Show
Garagiola occasionally filled in for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. One such guest hosting gig saw Garagiola interview John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles. Needless to say, that’s just about the biggest celebrity interview he could have had.
He Grew Up with Yogi Berra
Last week, Yogi Berra made our list of people you didn’t know were from the St. Louis metro area. Yogi grew up on The Hill with Joe Garagoila, and the two were good friends. Both men lived into their 90s, as Yogi passed away in 2015. Not only were the two friends, they both tried out for the big leagues at the same time, which leads us to our next story…
Branch Rickey Chose Joe Over Yogi
Garagiola wasn’t as horrible a player as he liked to joke (sorry, Joe, but Bob Uecker has that market cornered), but he still wasn’t Yogi Berra. Now remembered more for his personality, Berra was an amazingly good Hall of Fame catcher. According to a 2015 STLToday article by Derrick Goold titled ‘One that got away’: When Yogi tried out for the Cardinals, Garagiola, Hall of Famer Red Shoendienst, and Yogi Berra all tried out for the Cardinals at the same time. Then-GM Branch Rickey (a legend who invented baseball’s modern farm system and signed Jackie Robinson) signed Garagiola and Shoendienst, but not Berra. The rest is history.
He Wrote Three Books
Joe Garagiola has three books to his name: Baseball is a Funny Game (1960), Anybody’s Ballgame (1988), and Just Play Ball (2007).