NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The father of New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has died.
The Deiters Funeral Home said that Jerry Girardi died on Saturday at age 81. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease since the 1990s and died in Metamora, Ill.
The Yankees are set to play Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night against Baltimore, and Girardi will be in the dugout. New York leads 2-1 in the best-of-five matchup, and Girardi has been with the team for every game.
“My father was a wonderful guy,” Girardi told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “He was a guy that I followed around all the time. He taught me so much about the value of hard work and earning a living, and being a good husband and a good father. I always say that the best way to describe him is, ‘If I could be half the husband and father that he was, then I’m doing something right.'”
Jerry Girardi served in the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War and worked in construction sales and as a bricklayer, according to an obituary on the funeral home’s website.
“(With) him and my mother both, education was preached and perseverance was preached,” the Yankees’ skipper said. “It came first. And athletics were very important in our family, and he was a big part of that as well, but the education came first.”
Naturally, Jerry had a significant influence on his son when it came to the game of baseball.
“He took me to Cubs games all the time when I was a little boy; he used to take us to about five or six a year,” Girardi said. “We played catch in the backyard. He would feed the (hitting) machine to me every day. We’d go to a ballpark and set up right down the street from our restaurant and he would feed the machine every day … He was at all my games. He found a way to make all of our games and just be a big part of my life.”
A funeral is scheduled for Monday in Peoria. His wife, Angela, died in 1984. The couple had four sons and a daughter.
When Raul Ibanez hit a dramatic walk-off home run on Wednesday night to give the Yankees the series advantage, Girardi couldn’t help but think of his father.
“I though about my dad and my mom, thinking, ‘They’re seeing a heck of a game for the first couple times in like 28 years together,’ because my mother passed away a long time (ago),” Girardi said. “They (got) a pretty good game.”
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