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Joe Garagiola, ex-player turned glib broadcaster, dies at 90

FILE - In this April 14, 2013, file photo, Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Joe Garagiola, center, waves to a cheering crowd during festivities honoring the retiring broadcaster, prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Phoenix. Former big league catcher and popular broadcaster Joe Garagiola has died. He was 90. The Arizona Diamondbacks say Garagiola died Wednesday, March 23, 2016. He had been in ill health in recent years. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — Former big-league catcher and popular broadcaster Joe Garagiola has died. He was 90.

Garagiola’s death was announced in a statement by the Arizona Diamondbacks, who employed Garagiola as a part-time broadcaster from 1998 to 2012.

But Garagiola will best be known as the voice of Major League Baseball’s Game of the Week broadcasts, where for nearly three decades he worked alongside broadcasting legends such as Curt Gowdy, Bob Wolff and, most notably, Vin Scully. His affiliation with NBC went far beyond baseball, as he was a panelist on the Today show and appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

In his later years, he became a strident advocate for the eradication of chewing tobacco in baseball, visiting major league camps and delivering blistering and at times graphic presentations to players.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of this amazing man who was not just beloved by those of us in his family, but to generations of baseball fans who he impacted during his eight decades in the game,” Garagiola’s family said in a statement. “Joe loved the game and passed that love onto family, his friends, his teammates, his listeners and everyone he came across as a player and broadcaster. His impact on the game, both on and off the field, will forever be felt.”

Garagiola thrived in his post-retirement career as a glib baseball broadcaster and fixture on the “Today” show. He played eight seasons in the majors, but generations of fans knew him for his 57-year career in broadcasting, including a 30-year association with NBC.

He won baseball’s Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting in 1991. Garagiola kept working well into his 80s, serving as a part-time analyst for Diamondbacks telecasts.