Smith: How they thanked Joe Garagiola

Three pals who met while working eons ago at Charles Schulz' ice arena tell a sweet tale about a bonus adventure to their road trip to Arizona for Spring Training.

They phoned Joe Garagiola in Phoenix and asked the baseball and broadcasting wonder if they might stop by.

Jim Doe, Dave Medin and Brian McGee had an in: they're close to the Schulz family, and Garagiola goes way back with Jeannie Schulz and her late husband the "Peanuts" cartoonist and baseball fan.

Come on over, the 88-year-old Garagiola said by phone to Doe, who employed Medin and McGee during his long run managing Snoopy's Home Ice and gift store.

Medin's now a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy and an exceptional painter of sports figures. McGee sells medical equipment and coaches baseball team at Cardinal Newman High.

Garagiola and his wife, Audrey, welcomed them and Doe into their home. The Hall of Famer showed them his office. They were blown away.

It's a world-class museum of baseball memorabilia, with professionally preserved autographs from the likes of DiMaggio, Aaron and Paige.

The visitors told Garagiola their primary purpose for coming was to thank him for his support of their late friend, Bob Leslie, Casa Grande High baseball coach who died in 1998 of mouth cancer caused by his use of chewing tobacco.

Leslie and Garagiola worked together to plead with young people to steer clear of chew. And when Leslie died at age 31, Garagiola came to Petaluma to deliver an eloquent and tearful eulogy.

Medin, the lawman/artist, presented Garagiola a gift: a painting, an action portrait of Garagiola as a young catcher. Medin told him, "Thanks for what you did for Bob."

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