Beloved baseball announcer and former MLB player Joe Garagiola has died at the age of 90, the Arizona Diamondbacks confirmed Wednesday.
Garagiola started broadcasting games for NBC in 1961, and became the familiar play-by-play voice for fans across the country for nearly three decades after. Thanks to his NBC contract, Garagiola served as a frequent panelist on the ‘Today’ show and even guest hosted ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.’
Garagiola grew up in St. Louis on the same street as fellow baseball great–and fellow catcher–Yogi Berra. The two men were lifelong friends.
The Cardinals signed Garagiola to their farm system when he was just 16 years of age. He made his Major League debut in 1946, when the team went to the World Series. Garagiola recorded six hits and 4 RBI on 19 plate appearances in the series. It would be his only trip to the World Series.
Garagiola’s baseball career did not end on a high note, spending his final four seasons being traded from the Cardinals to the Pirates, then to the Chicago Cubs, and finally to the New York Giants. He retired in 1954.
But Garagiola found his niche in broadcasting, calling games for the Cardinals on KMOX Radio from 1955 to 1962, and national broadcasts for NBC. In 1988 he left NBC but continued calling games for the California Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks until his retirement in 2013.