There will be a lot of heavy hearts at Yankees Stadium for Thursday night's ALDS Game 4 as it has been announced that Jerry Girardi, the father of New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, has died at age 81.
Jerry Girardi actually died Saturday which means, obviously, that his family has been dealing with his loss for several days. Joe Girardi told reporters before Game 4 that he preferred to not have the death reported promptly in order to keep the focus of any questions on baseball.
As many Yankees fans learned over the years, Jerry Girardi suffered from Alzheimer's disease and resided at an assisted-care center in Girardi's hometown of Peoria, Ill. Joe is the fourth of five children and he has credited Jerry for giving him a love of baseball and sports as they'd both listen to Chicago Cubs games on the radio while Joe was growing up.
"I think about my father all the time," Girardi says in a room adjacent to his Yankee Stadium office, leaning back in a padded chair after completing a pregame interview session with reporters.
"I think about all the things that he taught me about hard work, and fighting through adversity, and toughness. I carry all the things that he taught me as a little boy growing up. He was always there for me."
So it is now Girardi's vow to be there for his father.
"You have to understand, it's not something they want to do, and our job is to take care of them," Girardi said. "That's the least I can do. My dad took care of me forever."
A recent Girardi profile that Gay Talese wrote in The New Yorker (subscription req'd) tagged along with Joe as he visited Jerry this season. Joe would routinely make the 16o-mile drive south to Peoria whenever the Yankees visited Chicago and the profile made clear that the two shared a special relationship.
Girardi talked more about his father at a press conference on Thursday and relished the thought that his parents had finally been reunited. Girardi's mother Angela died in 1984.
"You know, when I think about it, it's the first time in over 28 years that my mom and dad have seen a game together," Girardi said. "So they'll be watching, and they'll be mad if I'm not doing my job, I know that."
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