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Father Of Yankees' Girardi Dies; Inspired His Son, Who Will Keep Managing

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi during Monday's game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Alex Brandon
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi during Monday's game against the Baltimore Orioles.

There's sad news today that "Jerry Girardi, the father of New York Yankees manager and East Peoria native Joe Girardi," has died in Metamora, Ill., Peoria's Journal Star reports.

Jerry Girardi was 81. He had suffered for the past several years from Alzheimer's disease. According to the local funeral home, he died on Saturday.

Joe Girardi has been in the Yankee's dugout for each of the team's three playoff games so far against the Baltimore Orioles. The American League Division Series began on Sunday. New York Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman has posted on Twitter that he has "confirmed Joe Girardi IS managing Game 4 tonight" as well. Last night, New York came from behind to beat Baltimore 3-2 and take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series.

According to the Journal Star, Jerry Girardi's funeral will be held Monday in Peoria. If the Yankees advance to the American League Championship Series, Monday would be an "off" day.

In September, author Gay Talese wrote a long profile of Joe Girardi for The New Yorker (abstract here). Talese reported that:

"When Girardi is not preoccupied with the health and performance of his team, his mind is often on his father, Gerald. ... Girardi phones his father once a week to have a one-way conversation; for the past three years, Gerald has been unable to communicate."

Joe Girardi told Talese that "my dad was always there for me. ... He's the one who played catch with me, he was the one who took me to Cubs games where I could seem my favorite players."

Talese went with Joe Girardi on a visit to Jerry Girardi at the assisted-living home where the older man was living. It's a compelling scene as the son talks with the father — another one-way conversation. At the story's end, Talese writes:

"Before leaving the room, [Joe Girardi] looked again at his father, leaned forward, and kissed him on the forehead. 'I love you, Dad,' he said.

"He turned and walked toward the exit, waving at the attendants at the front desk, and finally, before leaving the building, he said, this time to himself, 'I love you, Dad.' "

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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