Yankees Manager: East Peoria Native Joseph Elliot Girardi

Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

The Yankees Joe Girardi was born in Peoria and raised across the Illinois River in East Peoria, Illinois. The fourth son born to Jerry and Angela Girardi. The son of an Air Force Veteran and a blue-collar worker and a child psychologist.

Yankees manager, Joe Girardi,  grew up in a small town, with a population of 23,402. East Peoria was dominated by the sites, noise and smell of the manufacturing giant Caterpillar Inc. and it’s everyday production of earth moving equipment. Big Yellow employed over twenty thousand, any given day at the East Peoria facility.

Tragedy struck Joe at the age of 13, his mother a child psychologist, diagnosed with cancer and given 3 to 6 months to live. This became Joe’s biggest motivation to become a baseball player. The future Yankees manager and player excelled in sports, including football, basketball, and baseball. His love was on the diamond, as a catcher. Joe ended up at Northwestern University, excelling in baseball and earning a degree in Industrial Engineering.

Joe married his college sweetheart, Kim Innocenzi and they have three children. Joe had to deal with father’s Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years of his father’s life. His father passed away during the 2012 ALDS series.

Professional baseball:

The future Yankees manager was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Cubs. In 1989 Girardi made his début with the Cubs. Hit a solid .248 his rookie year. The next two-year he was quite productive for Chicago, posting a .270 average both years.

In 1992, Joe Girardi left unprotected and selected by the Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft. He was a solid contributor to those Rocky teams from 1993 to 1995.

That caught the eye of the Yankees, and in 1996 he became a New York Yankees. Joe has excelled in a Yankees uniform.  From catching Dwight “Doc” Gooden’s no-hitter and David Cone’s perfect game to mentoring Jorge Posada. While winning three World Series and including driving in the winning run off Greg Maddux in the 1996 World Series, Joe had an outstanding career for the Bronx Bombers.

Joe finished up his career playing for the Cubs in 2000-2002 and the Cardinals in 2003. Always respected by his peers. In 2002 Joe a Chicago Cub requested to speak to the crowd, after the death of a Cardinal, baseball player. Joe simply said to the crowd, “Due to a tragedy in the Cardinal family, there would be no game today.” To fully understand this moment, one could only relate to  Derek Jeter making this sort of announcement in Boston’s Fenway Park.

Yankees and Marlins Manager:

The future Yankees manager retired in 2004 and became a commentator for the Yes Network. After the 2005 season, Joe Girardi, got his first managing place with the Florida Marlins, replacing Jack McKeon.  With the lowest payroll in baseball, Joe had this team in playoff contention. They finished 78-84. Joe Girardi received the 2006 National League Manager of the Year Award. Joe Girardi is the only manager ever to win this award, with a team finishing in fourth place, or worse.

JUPITER, FL – FEBRUARY 25, 2006: Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Victor Baldizon/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL – FEBRUARY 25, 2006: Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Victor Baldizon/Getty Images) /

In the middle of the season Jeffery Loria, in the stands, was heckling the umpires, during a game. Joe approached owner Loria and asked him to stop this type of behavior, during the games. An enormous public argument ensued, on

A huge public argument ensued, on national television and the field of play. In early October, Jeffery Loria fired Joe, even though he had just won the National League Manager of the Year award.

In 2008 Joe accepted the managerial position of the New York Yankees. The following year he guided the Yankees to their twenty-seventh World Championship. As of August 31, he has won 896 and lost 704 games as the Yankee skipper. He has a winning percentage of .560. He has accumulated a postseason record of 38 and 21.

No active manager has a higher winning percentage than Joe Girardi, in 1000 games or more. Joe has guided the Bombers to five playoff appearances and the one World Series Championship. Joe’s teams are always in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Joe’s contract is up this season, and he will be in high demand once again on the free agent market for managers. But, I am sure his heart lies in the Bronx.

What kind of man is he:

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

We often see those managers and ballplayers in uniform and never really get a feel for what kind of person they are. We do know that Joe is a religious man and believes in doing the right thing. That was not more evident than what happened with Jeffery Loria during the middle of the season. He continued to get his team up and ready to play. He is a manager that finds a way to motivate and keep his team in the hunt for a playoff spot.

More from Yanks Go Yard

Here is something that happened in 2009, that should give you an idea of what kind of man the Yankee manager is. Joe, always willing to helping his fellow-man, was involved in a unique accident situation in 2009.

After the World Series celebration, he was driving home when he came upon an accident. Joe Girardi risked his life to ensure the safety of an injured woman, pinned in a car. She had hit a wall on a blind curve. Joe said

Joe said afterward, “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.” That is a testament to the type of man who Joe Elliott Girardi is.

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