The Untold Larry Miggins “Garagiola Story”

Larry Miggins One of Baseball's Great Storytellers

Larry Miggins
One of Baseball’s Great Storytellers

 

As a kid, I remember being impressed by a 1948 movie called “The Boy with Green Hair”, starring Pat O’Brien and Dean Stockwell. Had this previously unpublished story by my dear friend and former Houston Buff, Larry Miggins, gone public only three years after the aforementioned movie, it may have served as the basis for a sequel-script to the aforementioned film.

The Miggins/Garagiola story happened in 1951, during the St. Louis Cardinals’ only season under manager Marty Marion, and during the Cardinals’ spring training camp in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Garagiola and Miggins hit it off with each other in camp, but they would soon part ways. Joe Garagiola would spend 1951 with the Cards as their back-up catcher, but it would be his last dance for his hometown team. He would be dealt to Pittsburgh prior to 1952 and be retired from baseball as a player by the end of the 1954 season. Larry Miggins would be sent down to Houston for the 1951 season and the chance to help power hitter Jerry Witte lead the Buffs to the 1951 Texas League title. Miggins would spend some brief time with the Cards in 1952, but he too would be done as a player, by mid-season of 1954.

It was an earlier time. Maybe Joe Garagiola didn't want anyone forming mental images of sitting on the john.

It was an earlier time. Maybe Joe Garagiola didn’t want anyone forming mental images of him sitting on the john.

 

Larry says he tried to get Garagiola to include this true story in his book of several years ago about the funny side of baseball, but Joe declined.

“I can’t do it, Larry,” Garagiola explained. “it’s too delicate a matter to go to print.”

 

Oh, really? It’s one of the funniest baseball culture stories you may ever hear, and one that Larry Miggins was more than pleased to know that I wanted to do this column about. Yeah, it’s a little on the immodest, personal hygiene side of things, but it is no slight upon the strength, character, courage, good sense of humor and incredible goodness of the man who lived it. Larry was more than happy to give me his full permission for this first publication of a story that needed to be preserved for “posterity”.

____________________

The Previously Unpublished Garagiola Story By Larry Miggins

Here’s the story, as told to me today by Larry Miggins:

“I was hopeful of making the big club roster in 1951 – and ready to try just about anything that might help give me that last extra edge needed that might make a difference. By everything, I’m not talking about drugs, but about playing technique, training, or diet. Anything like that, I wanted to hear more about.

“One day this salesman/farmer came to camp to talk with the Cardinals’ famous trainer, Doc Weaver. He was promoting natural strength ingredients that came from products he says he developed from his own crops. A lot of them included the ground roots of the plants themselves, whatever they may have been. He must have sold Weaver because the guy was given the chance to promote and sell his ideas to us individually as players. I ended up being one of the fellows who agreed to try them. And, mind you, all of this was happening as we went into mid-March, a little late for anything to make much of a difference, one way or the other, but I figured, what have I got to lose?

“To appreciate what happened next, you have to get the picture of what that Cardinal clubhouse was like in 1951. We had four toilets – total – and they were all lined up against one wall, side-by-side. We’re talking no stalls here – just the toilets themselves – with no privacy. If you needed to talk with somebody – and that need matched up with both of you having the same big job more basic need at the same time – here was the time and space to get it all done.

“One day, only a few days after I started eating those plant and root supplements, I was sitting on the far right john – and Garagiola was sitting on the facility to my immediate left. We had enjoyed a good discussion about hitting for about ten minutes, but we were both ready to finish about the same time. – I stood up to wipe myself, but I was suddenly taken aback by what I saw on the paper. – It was totally covered with green marks!

” ‘What the heck’, I exclaimed loud as sunrise, ‘Look at this, Joe!’ I shouted. ‘Look what this stuff I’ve been taking has done to me!’ Of course, I had to show him the tissue.

“Joe looked over in amazement. – Then he even peered into my pot and just started laughing his bald head off! When I reached for the handle, he even grabbed my arm and screamed for joy, ‘Oh, no, Larry! – Don’t flush it. – Just finish getting dressed, as will I!’

“Garagiola then proceeded to gather the rest of the Cardinals around us for their own gander at my doings. Then he raised both hands to the sky to make his point. Even I had slipped up on what day it really was! – I had totally lost myself to thinking only of spring training until this moment.

” ‘It’s St. Patrick’s Day, right guys?’ Joe shouted through his laughter.  ‘And just look at who almost forgot it was St. Patrick’s Day – until he sat down!’

“I took the kidding in good spirit because I knew Joe Garagiola well enough to know that he meant no harm by it. He wasn’t that kind of guy. Almost needless to say, I stopped using the farm supplements. And that kind of greenery went away.”

____________________

Thank you, Larry Miggins, for being a very dear good friend, and one of baseball’s great treasures!

And thank you too, Joe Garagiola. Your greatest contributions to baseball only began once you stopped playing and started talking and writing about baseball and life. Say hello to Yogi for us fans too. OK? We fans already miss both of you!

____________________

eagle-0rangeBill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

https://bill37mccurdy.com/

 

 

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2 Responses to “The Untold Larry Miggins “Garagiola Story””

  1. Brian Beebe Says:

    The wearin of the Green

    Irish I am, through and through.
    Brian’s my name after Brian Boru
    But Larry I just don’t think I’m as Irish as you.

  2. Anthnony Cavender Says:

    Egad! Not your usual uplifting commentary.

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