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The late Joe Garagiola may have come off as a very funny guy, but Vin Scully, who partnered with the former big-league catcher on NBC telecasts in the 1980s, was surprised at first by just how serious he was.
“I was very fortunate to know and work with Joe Garagiola. Boy did he surprise me as a broadcaster,” Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers since 1950, said in a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Joe was always a funny and decent man, but he was a big surprise to me. When we got together in the booth, he was very serious. The part that surprised me was how well prepared he was for each and every telecast. Joe didn’t just rely on his experience as a player, but he did his homework, and all of us benefited from his knowledge and research.”
“I will miss his laughter and his love for the game, but most of all, I will miss a deeply religious man who had a great sense of humor.”
Garagiola, who turned a stint as a light-hitting catcher in the late 1940s and mid ‘50s into a bounteous television career as a baseball announcer and TV host on the Today show, The Tonight Show and other programs, died on Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz, He was 90.
In 1976, Garagiola succeeded Curt Gowdy as NBC’s No. 1 play-by-play announcer to team with former Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek on the network’s Game of the Week broadcasts each Saturday afternoon.
In the ‘80s, he shifted to the analyst chair to team with legendary play-by-play man Scully. He resigned from NBC Sports after he and Scully called the Dodgers’ win over the Oakland A’s in the 1988 World Series, memorable for Kirk Gibson’s improbable home run in the ninth inning of Game 1.
Others reacted to Garagiola’s death:
Mike Greenberg of ESPN:
So sad to hear of the passing of Joe Garagiola, among the friendliest voices the soundtrack of sports ever had. What a life he led. #RIP
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) March 23, 2016
Today host Matt Lauer:
God I’ll miss Joe Garagiola.
Was part of the soul of our show, and told me stories that made me laugh till I cried.
Hall of fame person.
— Matt Lauer (@MLauer) March 23, 2016
Peter King of Sports Illustrated:
RIP Joe Garagiola, the voice of Saturday afternoons of my youth.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) March 23, 2016
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