The Italian American Baseball Foundation has announced that its 2019 guest of honor is former New York Yankee Manager Joe Girardi.
Joseph Elliot Girardi was born in Peoria, Illinois and grew up in East Peoria. He attended Peoria’s Sacred Heart/Father Sweeney, where he was coached in basketball by his father. He then attended Academy of Our Lady/Spalding Institute in Peoria, where he played quarterback for the football team and catcher for the baseball team.
Joe enrolled at Northwestern University, which he attended from 1983 through 1986. He played for the Northwestern Wildcats baseball team and was named an Academic All-American and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering.
Girardi was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 1986 MLB draft, making his major league debut in 1989. During his 15-year playing career, Joe had two stints with the Chicago Cubs (1989-1992 and 2000-2002). He played for the Colorado Rockies from 1993–1995 and finished his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003. He is best remembered for his time with the New York Yankees from 1996–1999, when the team won three World Series with Joe as the backstop. During those years he caught Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter and David Cone’s perfect game.
After his playing career ended, Girardi became a manager and in 2006 was named National League Manager of the Year while at the helm of the Florida Marlins. In 2008, he became the Manager of the New York Yankees and in 2009, during his second year as skipper, led the team to its 40th American League Pennant and their 27th World Series title. He continued to manage the team through 2017. He currently serves as an analyst for MLB Network and Fox Sport
Joe and his wife, Kim Innocenzi-Girardi, have three children and live in Purchase, New York. His character is perhaps best exemplified by an incident that took place in October, 2009. While driving home following the Yankees victory in that year’s World Series, Joe stopped to help a car crash victim on a dangerous blind curve of the Cross County Parkway in Eastchester, New York. Police said Girardi put his own life at risk while trying to help the driver who had just crashed into a wall. The driver said she had no idea who Girardi was until the responding officers identified him. The next day, Girardi 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.”
Well said, Joe – congratulations on being the Italian American Baseball Foundation 2019 Guest of Honor.