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Garagiola, Joe (12 Feb. 1926–23 March 2016), baseball player, broadcaster, and television personality, was born Joseph Henry Garagiola in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Giovanni Garagiola, a brickyard worker, and his wife, Angelica, both Italian immigrants from near Milan. He grew up in the Italian neighborhood known as “the Hill,” across the street from his lifelong friend and baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra. As the quintessential storyteller Garagiola told it, “Not only was I not the best catcher in the major leagues, I was not the best catcher on my street!” (...

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Gifford, Frank (16 Aug. 1930–9 Aug. 2015), professional football player and broadcaster, was born Frank Newton Gifford in Santa Monica, California, the youngest of three children of Weldon Wayne Gifford, an oil and shipyards worker, and Lola Mae (Hawkins) Gifford.

Frank was a shy boy whose lisp made him self-conscious. His family moved through Depression-era trailer camps, hunting work. Football bolstered his confidence, and the sport became his lifelong identity. He was co-captain of the Bakersfield High School Drillers, who became San Joaquin Valley football champions in ...

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Red Grange. Red Grange [second from right], signing a movie contract, with his manager, Charles C. Pyle, standing alongside. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105233).

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Grange, Red (13 June 1903–28 January 1991), football player, coach, and broadcaster, was born Harold Edward Grange in Forksville, Pennsylvania, the son of Lyle Grange, a lumber camp foreman, and Sadie Sherman. When Grange’s mother died in 1908, his father moved the family, which included Red’s older sisters and his three-year-old brother, to Wheaton, Illinois, where the elder Grange had grown up. Years later, Red, as he was nicknamed because of his auburn hair, recalled that “at first I missed Forksville terribly,” but as time passed he realized that Wheaton “offered a more civilized way of life.”...

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Kiner, Ralph (27 Oct. 1922–6 Feb. 2014), baseball player and broadcaster, was born Ralph McPherran Kiner in Santa Rita, New Mexico, the son of Ralph Maclin Kiner, a baker, and Beatrice Grayson Kiner, a nurse. When his father died four years later, his mother moved the family to Alhambra, California, where Ralph played baseball at Alhambra High School and attracted attention from New York Yankee and Pittsburgh Pirate scouts. The Pirates convinced him he had a better chance of success with them than with the talented and deep Yankees and signed him with a $3,000 bonus, with which he paid off his mother’s mortgage....

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Snyder, Jimmy "the Greek" (09 September 1919?–21 April 1996), gambler, newspaper columnist, and television sports broadcaster, was born Demetrios Georgios Synodinos in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of George Synodinos, owner of the White Star Meat Market, and Sultania Synodinos. In March 1928, when the boy was ten, his mother and his aunt, Theano Galanos, were murdered in front of the family home by Theano's estranged husband, a war hero suffering from “battle fatigue.” After his mother's death, his father moved with the three children to Kios, a Greek island. It was in Kios that young Demetrios learned to gamble, tossing stones for drachmas with the local teenagers....

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Villanueva, Danny D. (5 Nov. 1937–18 June 2015), professional athlete, sports broadcaster, media entrepreneur, and philanthropist, was born Daniel Dario Villanueva in Tucumcari, New Mexico, the ninth child (out of twelve) of Primitivo and Pilar Villanueva. His Mexican-born father and mother had immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. Primitivo, an itinerant Methodist minister, was reassigned to a new ministry in Phoenix, Arizona shortly after Daniel’s birth. After moving the family there he would later move to Calexico, California. There, in the borderlands of Greater Mexico, Danny Villanueva spent most of his childhood years....