RIP Mickey Garagiola

Pictured above: Mickey Garagiola with Cowboy Bob Orton.

Mickey Gargiola passed away today at the age of 88 after a bout with cancer.  Mickey was best known as his role as Larry Matysik’s co-host and the ring announcer on Wrestling at the Chase on KPLR Channel 11 for many years.  His more famous brother Joe was the original host of Wrestling at the Chase.  Mickey was best considered “the voice of the fan” on the show as he would sit at the announce desk with Larry Matysik and occasionally make a comment about the action taking place in front of him or how he wanted to see a certain wrestler win an upcoming bout.

The Wrestling at the Chase show was tremendously successful until Sam Muchnick sold his interest in the St. Louis Wrestling club to a group of promoters headed by Bob Geigel and Harley Race.  Muchnick retired on January 1, 1982 and less than eighteen months later Gargiola was announcing on Channel 30 along with Matysik who was running opposition to the St. Louis Wrestling Club.  Unfortunately for all fans of the traditional St. Louis style of wrestling Vince McMahon Jr. convinced Ted Koplar who was the Program Director at KPLR to go with WWF programming instead of Matysik’s new venture which had canceled plans to stay on Channel 30 in order to move back to Channel 11.

From all accounts I have ever seen Mickey Garagiola was one of the most genuinely nice people ever involved in the wrestling business.  He was a long time waiter at Ruggeri’s on the Hill (if you ever go to St. Louis you must go to the Hill to eat Italian food!) and was very generous with his time particularly with those who were shut ins or disabled.  I may have to resubscribe to the Observer just to read Dave’s comments on this.  Mickey was one of the few remaining links to what was truly the golden era of wrestling in St. Louis.  As I mentioned on the nostalgia audio if you get the chance to listen to Larry Matysik’s interviews on 57 Gold you really should do so.  I think everything from 1981 on is extremely interesting. – Stunt Granny Nostalgia Expert Dan Kuester

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