Yankees manager Joe Girardi attends father's funeral
PEORIA, Ill. -- The strain of one of the roughest weeks imaginable was more than apparent on Joe Girardi's face Monday morning.
The Yankees' manager, whose team is down 2-0 to the Tigers in the American League Championship Series and lost Derek Jeter to a fractured ankle in Game 1, stopped in Illinois on the way to Detroit to say goodbye to the man he credits above all others for his work ethic and success.
His father, Jerry Girardi, died Oct. 6 at a residential health-care provider in nearby Metamora. He was 81 and had battled Alzheimer's disease for several years. Girardi's mother, Angela, died in 1984.
At a funeral mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church -- less than 24 hours after being ejected from Game 2 on his 48th birthday Sunday -- Girardi appeared pale and somber.
Girardi's wife, Kim, and their three children also attended the one-hour service in the tiny downtown church. Girardi stood patiently before the funeral mass to shake hands with dozens of area residents, many of whom remember him as a football and baseball star at Peoria's Spalding Academy. His dad was his baseball coach in high school.
"I'm fine," a tearful Joe Girardi said outside the church. "Tired but doing OK." He repeatedly dabbed at his eyes as his father's casket was loaded into a waiting hearse.
Girardi, in a statement released by the Yankees, thanked his fans and friends. "We deeply appreciate the overwhelming support that has been shown to us during this difficult time. Our father would have been touched by all the kindness shown to our family as we mourn his passing. As saddened as we are with his loss, we take solace in knowing that he lives on through the principles he passed down to us and in the many wonderful memories we have of him."
Immediately after the service, Girardi joined the funeral procession to Tampico, Ill., where his father was buried. Girardi was expected to fly to Detroit later in the day to rejoin the team before Game 3 Tuesday night.
Girardi managed the entire Division Series against the Orioles with a heavy heart, with Game 1 starting just 24 hours after his father's death. The Yankees didn't announce the death until Thursday after a Peoria newspaper ran Jerry Girardi's obituary.