Joe Girardi managing Yankees with heavy heart after father’s passing
NEW YORK – With a chance to advance to the American League Championship Series, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will be piloting his team with a heavy heart on Thursday following the recent passing of his father.
Jerry Girardi died Saturday in Metamora, Ill. at age 81, and Girardi said that he received notification of his father’s passing as the Yankees were traveling to Baltimore to open the American League Division Series.
Until Thursday, Girardi only passed along word to a handful of Yankees staff members, not not want to distract from the club’s postseason efforts against the Orioles.
“I didn’t really want to talk about it,” Girardi said. “I didn’t want to take away from what we were trying to do here, because I know my dad wouldn’t. The one thing my parents always taught me was, finish the job at hand.”
Girardi will manage in Game 4 of the American League Division Series tonight at Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees will observe a moment of silence for Jerry Girardi prior to the game. Funeral services will take place on Monday at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Tampico, Ill.
“I think the best way to describe it is, if I could be half the husband and half the father my dad is, I’d do pretty good,” Girardi said. “He was always there for me, even though he was working three jobs, he was always there for me. He taught me the value of hard work and perseverance, family and the important things in life.”
The Yankees lead 2-1 in their five-game series with the Orioles and can advance to the AL Championship Series with a win on Thursday. Girardi said that it was not a difficult decision for him to stay with the Yankees after learning of his father’s passing.
“I didn’t want to take away from the focus of what the club was trying to do,” Girardi said. “I didn’t want people to worry about me. My dad had always taught me, my mom too — persevere and finish the job. We have an expectation here and a job we’re trying to finish here.”
Jerry Girardi suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and had been living in an assisted care facility in Metamora, Ill. Girardi said that his last visit to his father came in August during the Yankees’ trip to play the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
“[He was a] huge Cubs fan, loved the other sports, loved basketball, played a year at Bradley,” Girardi said. “We played in the backyard. He was tough on me when we played basketball. I mean, he’d knock me down. He taught me about how to get back up.”
Jerry Girardi was born on May 5, 1931, and married Angela Perino in 1959 in Tampico, Ill. The couple had five children: John, George, Maria, Joe and Jerry. Girardi is also survived by six grandchildren. Angela Girardi died in 1984.
Girardi served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He later worked in construction sales for National Gypsum Company, and he also worked as a bricklayer.
“At times he would be working three jobs at once to support the five kids,” Girardi said. “So he was a salesman, he would bartend at night a couple nights a week, he would lay bricks on the weekend which he took me to do that with him; taught me that.
“He gave me my first $100 bill at 7 years old because I worked four days with him and was covered in black mortar; we were doing a fireplace. It was a special relationship. Wherever my dad was, I was right behind him.”
Here is a story I wrote a few years back about Girardi’s relationship with his father.