June 2, 2003 - - Best friends and baseball legends Lawrence "Yogi" Berra
and Joe Garagiola shared jokes, tears and embraces with neighbors as they
returned to their childhood stomping grounds, The Hill.
The two spoke Sunday from a stage at one end of the 5400 block of Elizabeth
Avenue - renamed Hall of Fame Place in their honor and in memory of Cardinals
broadcasting legend Jack Buck, who also lived there in the late 1950s.
Berra, 78, a 15-time All-Star catcher for the New York Yankees, was inducted
in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. And Garagiola, 77, who played for the
Cardinals and other Major League teams, was inducted in 1991 for his storied
broadcasting career with NBC. Buck entered the shrine in 1987.
Granite plaques marking their induction dates were installed in the carriage
walks in front of their former homes as part of the street renaming.
Hundreds brought lawn chairs, sat atop sloping front yards and snapped pictures
at the ceremony. About a dozen members of Berra's and Garagiola's boyhood
baseball team, Stags A.C., sat in the first few rows.
Berra lives in Montclair, NJ, but his younger sister Josephine Marie Sadowski
still lives in the house where they grew up. She came up with the idea to
rename the street. "I'd like to thank my sister Josie for making this day
necessary," he said, in a play on a former Yogi-ism that brought roars from
Turning serious, he added, "I never dreamed that we would be famous, and
that the street we were playing on would be renamed after what we did."
The event, with people hugging and chatting, felt more like a giant block
party of close-knit neighbors.
Jack Buck's oldest daughter, Beverly Brennan, called The Hill the "best
neighborhood to grow up in." Her sister, Christine Buck, joked that while
they lived there, she thought "Buck" was short for "Buckacelli."
The dedication ceremony brought back a flood of memories for them. "We've
been smiling for two full days now...
Garagiola's speech was marked with jokes about being Italian and characters
in the neighborhood. Garagiola, who now lives in Arizona, choked back tears
as he recalled attending the 11 a.m. Italian Mass at the neighborhood church,
"You have no idea what it's like to grow up on a street like this, and to
come to something like this, and have you throw your arms around us and love
us," he said.
And, as usual, he told lots of stories about Berra, whom he called the leader
of their childhood gang. Garagiola said he never knew what to expect when
turning the corner onto Elizabeth after walking home from St. Ambrose. One
day, the street was painted with green stripes every 10 yards. Berra had
painted a football field.
During the speeches, playful screams could be heard from children on bikes
and scooters swooping down the hilly alleyways onto the closed street.
"Has The Hill changed?" Garagiola asked. Many in the audience quickly answered
"No!" they yelled.
Reporter Michele Munz: E-mail: email@example.com
HALL OF FAME UNVIELED ON THE HILL
St, Louis Post Dispatch
Suburban Journals: Southwest City Journal updated: 06/03/2003
One can't help but wonder: Was there something in the water? After all, a
tiny stretch of Elizabeth Avenue on The Hill has produced more sports talent
than any other street in the country.
Three Hall-of-Famers -- Lawrence "Yogi" Berra, Joe Garagiola and sportscaster
Jack Buck -- either were born or lived within walking distance of one another
in the 5400 block of Elizabeth, now called Hall of Fame Place after a dedication
ceremony Sunday afternoon.
The event drew a crowd of at least 1,500 people, some of whom were strategically
perched on nearby roofs to get a better view of the stage on the corner of
Macklind and Elizabeth from which Berra and Garagiola said "Hello" to their
"I don't know of any other street in America that has had three individuals
who are Hall-of-Famers," St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said.
"The DiMaggio brothers' street is the only one," someone from the crowd shouted.
"That's only two, we've got three," Slay said triggering a wave of rapturous
applause from the audience.
The idea came from Berra's sister, Josie Sadwoski, who still lives in the
family house at 5447 Elizabeth Ave., where she and Yogi grew up.
"First of all I want to thank my sister, Josiefor making this day
necessary," said Berra who flew in from Philadelphia with wife Carmen. "I
am glad to see the mayor and so many good buddies of mine here. I wish the
mayor would've closed the street when we were kids. We played hockey, baseball,
football, whatever, on this street.
Berra, 78, played for the New York Yankees, the New York Mets and was elected
to the Hall of Fame in 1972. He was a 15-time All Star, winning the league's
Most Valuable Player award three times.
"We never dreamed we would be famous and the name of our street would be
changed because of what we did, but here we are.
"I am glad my mom and dad didn't miss the boat," Berra concluded, sending
the crowd into stitches.
A young Jack Buck and family found their first house on The Hill, at 5405
Elizabeth, with their three children.
"It was confusing living here because there were the DiGregorios, the Bellacinos,
the Bucks," said Buck's daughter Christine Buck. "For 10 years I thought
I was Italian. I thought our name was short for Buccacelli."...
Garagiola, 77, played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates,
the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants. He was elected to the Hall of Fame
Garagiola, whose house was directly across from his playmate Yogi's, concluded
the ceremony, reminiscing about the "old neighborhood."
"You have no idea what it is like to go to the Italian church for the 11
o'clock mass," Garagiola said. "I couldn't help but remember what my mother
and my father said, and Yogi's parents, and I could see these different faces
and the church is so beautiful."
Among Garagiola's many fond memories were hearing a telephone for the first
time in one of the neighborhood houses, Italian wine and weddings.
"First time we ever heard a telephone, we listened to the busy signalwe
thought it was a code and here come the Russians," Garagiola said. Then it
was onto Italian cure-alls.
"Here on The Hill, if something was wrongwine," Garagiola said. "If
you had a toothache, you drank so much wine, your gums were purple."
"Has The Hill changed? It really hasn't for those of us who grew up here,"
Garagiola concluded. It was a sentiment shared by many in the audience.
"The only thing I can say is to paraphrase Joe (Garagiola) is when you grow
up on The Hill, you've never left it," said misty-eyed Angie Venigone, who
was born and raised on The Hill but now lives in South County.
As the band played the theme from "The Godfather," Garagiola and Berra sat
behind a table, granting an autograph to every fan who'd shown up with a
baseball or a picture.
Ekaterina Pesheva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STLtoday - neighborhoods