Joe Garagiola (Feb. 12, 1926 - March 23, 2016) passed away Wednesday morning following an unparalleled career in baseball spanning from his playing days in the 1940s to his role as a D-backs broadcaster through 2013. The 2014 Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient and 1991 Ford C. Frick Award winner was known for his nine-year playing career followed by a Hall of Fame broadcast career, as well as the many charitable endeavors that spanned his lifetime.
He is survived by his wife Audrie, eight grandchildren and children Steve, Gina and Joe Jr., who served as the D-backs General Manager from 1997-2005.
The following is a statement from his family:
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of this amazing man who was not just beloved by those of us in his family, but to generations of baseball fans who he impacted during his eight decades in the game. Joe loved the game and passed that love onto family, his friends, his teammates, his listeners and everyone he came across as a player and broadcaster. His impact on the game, both on and off the field, will forever be felt."
"Joe was one-of-a-kind and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know him and his family," said D-backs Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick. "His sense of humor certainly stood out to all of us, but perhaps more importantly, the mark he left in the community around him will carry on his legacy for generations to come."
"Joe was so special to everyone at the D-backs and had an aura about him that you could feel the moment you met him," said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. "Those of us who were lucky enough to know him personally were profoundly aware that the lovable personality that fans saw on TV was only surpassed by who he was in person and the way he treated everyone around him."
Garagiola played nine seasons in the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals (1946-51), Pittsburgh Pirates (1951-53), Chicago Cubs (1953-54) and New York Giants (1954). He reached the World Series as a rookie in 1946 and went 6-for-19 in five Fall Classic games, including a four-hit, three-RBI performance in Game 4 vs. the Red Sox.
Following his career, he had a nearly 30-year association with NBC including six years alongside Vin Scully as the No. 1 broadcast team that called the "Game of the Week," All-Star Games and World Series. His time at NBC also included many years at the Today Show (1967-73, 1990-92) and as a guest host on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.
Among his contributions to the game were the creation of the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) and the National Spit Tobacco Education Program which have impacted countless people around the world.
The Broadcast Wing & TV booth at Chase Field was named after Garagiola in 2009 and in 2012, Joe Garagiola Field was dedicated in Flagstaff.
A funeral service will be held in his hometown of St. Louis and a local memorial will take place in Arizona at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to B.A.T. or the St. Peter Indian Mission, another cause he held dearly.