Garagiola Sr. honored by D-backs

Garagiola Sr. honored by D-backs

PHOENIX -- Throughout his broadcasting career, Joe Garagiola Sr. was never at a loss for words.

Whether it was insight into the game happening on the field or making people laugh with a funny anecdote about it, Garagiola always seemed to have something to say.

That changed Sunday morning at Chase Field when the D-backs dedicated the broadcast wing of their press box in honor of Garagiola.

"It's impossible to answer that," Garagiola said when asked for his reaction. "I'm at a loss for words."

A timeline of Garagiola's life and career was painted along the wall behind the broadcast booths chronicling his rise from a childhood in St. Louis where he was friends with Yogi Berra through his Major League playing career and onto his broadcast career.

While many remember him for his work on NBC's Game of the Week, Garagiola was at one time a co-host of the "Today" show as well as game shows like "To Tell the Truth" and he also was a regular guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

Garagiola was lauded for his contributions to the D-backs organization as well as the game of baseball by D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president and CEO Derrick Hall.

Then Garagiola, accompanied by his wife, Audrey, and numerous family members including his son Joe Jr., who served as the team's general manager from its inception until 2005, got their first look at the wall.

"I told my wife I wasn't going to cry, but I can't help it," Garagiola said. "It's so special. What it does is it brings back memories. I've had a tremendous run. I've been blessed."

Growing up in an Italian-American neighborhood known as "The Hill" in St. Louis where he was friends with Berra, Garagiola went on to reach heights he never could have imagined.

"It's been quite a ride," said Garagiola, who was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 with the Ford C. Frick Award. "I never expected this. No way."

Since the team's inaugural season in 1998, Garagiola has served as a part-time broadcaster for select home games. This year, though, the 83-year-old has had some health setbacks that prevented him from venturing out to the ballpark until Sunday.

It's a trend he hopes to reverse next year.

"I've been either at a doctor's office or a hospital for 33 weeks," Garagiola said. "I hope God blesses me and lets me come back next year. I will work for nothing."

"I heard that," Kendrick said jokingly.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.