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Joseph Elliot Girardi (born October 14, 1964 in Peoria, Illinoismarker) is the manager of the New York Yankees, and a former Major League Baseball catcher. During his playing career, he was a catcher for the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, the New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals. He was also manager of the Florida Marlins in 2006, where he was named National League Manager of the Year.

Biography

Early life

A native of East Peoria, Illinoismarker, he attended East Peoria Central Junior High School. He then attended Spalding Institute (now merged into Peoria Notre Dame High Schoolmarker) in Peoria, Illinois, where he played quarterback for head football Coach Tommy Kahn and was the catcher for Coach David Lang's baseball teams. He went on to play baseball at Northwestern Universitymarker in Evanston, Illinoismarker, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering, and he was initiated into the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. He was the first sophomore to be elected president of a fraternity at Northwestern.

Playing career

While being a prospect for the Chicago Cubs, he played in 1988 for the Águilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan winter league. He began his major league playing career in 1989 with the Chicago Cubs, staying with them through . He was taken by the Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft before the season. Girardi played for the Rockies through . He was traded in 1995 to the New York Yankees for pitcher Mike DeJean.

Girardi served as the Yankees' regular catcher from through , earning three World Series rings in 1996, 1998, and 1999. In 1996, Girardi caught Dwight Gooden's no-hitter and in 1999, he caught David Cone's perfect game. When the Yankees promoted Jorge Posada, a 25 year-old prospect, to serve as his backup, Girardi served as Posada's mentor. The two catchers split time for the Yankees through .

In , Girardi left the Yankees and returned to the Chicago Cubs, where he was named to that year's All-Star team, his only All-Star appearance. He played with the Cubs again in and . In , Girardi played for St. Louis Cardinals.

As a Cub, Joe Girardi announced to the fans at Wrigley Field that the game on June 22, 2002 versus the Cardinals had been canceled, though he did not announce that the cancellation was prompted by Darryl Kile's death. Girardi tearfully gave the news at 2:37 p.m. CDT, broadcast nationally on FOX: "I thank you for your patience. We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinal family, the commissioner has canceled the game today. Please be respectful. You will find out eventually what has happened, and I ask that you say a prayer for the St. Louis Cardinals' family."

Broadcasting career

After a spring training stint with the Yankees in , Girardi retired and became a commentator for the YES Network, and hosted the youth-oriented Kids on Deck. He received positive reviews for his abilities as a broadcaster, and was offered an expanded role on 2005 Yankee broadcasts. Girardi, however, decided to become a coach instead.

Girardi worked games 3–5 of the 2006 World Series for Fox as part of the network's pregame and postgame team, along with host Jeanne Zelasko and regular analyst Kevin Kennedy.

After fielding managerial offers for the 2007 season, Joe Girardi instead came to terms with the YES network to return to the broadcast booth for 60 plus games as a Yankees analyst, and co-host a new show on the network, Behind The Plate, with John Flaherty, also a former Yankee catcher. Girardi also served as color commentator for the No.2 booth (Usually with Thom Brennaman) on Major League Baseball on Fox.

Coaching career

In , after rejecting an offer to become the bench coach of the Florida Marlins with a guarantee to become the team's manager in 2006 (he eventually got that job anyway), he became the Yankees' bench coach. He managed a game during a Joe Torre suspension, a loss to the Kansas City Royals. Girardi remained the host of Kids on Deck in 2005, having shot his shows before Spring Training. YES promoted Kids on Deck during games by showing Girardi on camera sitting in the dugout during breaks in the game.

Managerial career

Florida Marlins (2006)

After the 2005 regular season, Girardi was named the manager of the Florida Marlins, replacing departed manager Jack McKeon. His first notable action as manager was to prohibit facial hair, a policy similar to that of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, except for mustaches which Girardi prohibited as well.

As a first-time manager for the Marlins, Girardi guided the team into a surprising wild card contention (finishing with a 78–84 record) even though the team had the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball, approximately $14 million for 2006, a payroll that was lower than that of several MLB players. Despite the success Girardi achieved in his first year as manager, he was nearly fired in early August when he got into a vocal (and visible) argument with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria during a game. According to witnesses and video footage, the Marlins owner was heckling homeplate umpire Larry Vanover. When the umpire warned Girardi about the harassment, Girardi and his bench coach Gary Tuck then turned to Loria and told him to stop. Loria had to be talked out of firing Girardi immediately after the game. Rumors persist that Girardi used profanity toward Loria, but many are skeptical of this accusation because Girardi has never been known to use profanity. Skeptics say the accusation of profanity was a smear campaign from the Marlins front office in order to justify their firing of Girardi.

On October 3, 2006, the Marlins announced that they had fired Girardi. Girardi said only that he appreciated the opportunity to manage the club, a move that was seen as classy across the Major Leagues and kept him at the top of many teams' list of manager candidates. Girardi was thought to be among the leading candidates to replace Yankee manager Joe Torre after the Yankees' loss in the 2006 American League Division Series, but Torre remained with the Yankees. He was also a candidate for the Chicago Cubs manager position to succeed Dusty Baker and interviewed for the job just days after leaving the Marlins. With his playing experience in Chicago, he was considered a front-runner for the position even before the season was over. However, the Cubs chose to go with veteran manager Lou Piniella. Girardi took himself out of the running for the Washington Nationals' managerial job shortly thereafter and returned to the broadcast booth for the YES Network in 2007, doing this, he said, because it otherwise would have meant a third move in as many years for his family. Despite Girardi's firing, he was rewarded for his achievements with the Marlins in 2006 with the National League Manager of the Year Award and The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award for the National League.

New York Yankees (2008-Present)

In June 2007, Girardi was interviewed for the Orioles vacant managerial position (left vacant by the firing of Sam Perlozzo). On June 21, Girardi's agent informed news outlets that Girardi would be passing on the Orioles' offer to become their next manager. Many opined that Girardi would be the next Yankee manager. When the Yankees managerial position became vacant following the 2007 season, the Yankees interviewed Girardi, Tony Peña and Don Mattingly. Girardi was reported to be the Yankees' managerial choice on October 29, and he officially accepted the deal on October 30. He signed a 3-year contract, reportedly worth around $7.5 million.

Girardi chose to wear number 27 as the new manager of the Yankees to signify that he wants to lead the Yankees to their 27th world championship. On April 1, Girardi won his first game as manager of the Yankees, defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 3–2. On August 2, 2008, Girardi participated in his first Old Timer's Day, the last Old Timer's game played at the original Yankee Stadiummarker. Girardi participated in Old Timers day the next year, on July 19, 2009, the first in the new Yankee Stadiummarker.

Girardi's first year as Yankee manager was met with disappointment as it was the first time in 14 years the Yankees did not reach the postseason. In 2009, his second year as manager, he led the Yankees to win their 40th AL pennant and the Yankee's 27th World Series title against the Philadelphia Phillies, his first World Series title as manager and the Yankees' first since 2000.

Personal life

Girardi is married to Kimberly Girardi, and has three children, Serena, Dante, and Lena. His father's name is Jerry Girardi and his mother's name is Angela. His family currently resides in Parklandmarker, Floridamarker. He is a devout Christian.

While driving home after winning the 2009 World Series, Girardi stopped to help a crash victim on a dangerous part of the highway. Police said he put his life at risk while trying to help the driver who had just crashed into a wall. In an interview the next day, he said, "I think the most important thing is that, obviously, there's a lot of joy in what we do, but we can't forget to be human beings when we help others out." Girardi is also a known health enthusiast and has banned sweets such as chocolate bars and candy from the clubhouse.

References

  1. ESPN - Girardi returning to Yankees broadcast booth - MLB
  2. Hardball Dollars
  3. SI.com - Writers - Jon Heyman: All signs point to Girardi managing Cubs - Monday September 25, 2006 2:17PM
  4. ESPN - Source: Girardi expected to accept Yankees' offer - MLB
  5. ESPN - Girardi agrees to 3-year deal to manage Yankees - MLB
  6. Players' prayers Worldmag.com
  7. Yanks manager Girardi discusses Eastchester traffic-crash stop on WFAN LoHud.com


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