Northwestern alum Joe Girardi named Team USA manager as Americans hope to qualify for 2020 Olympics


Source: Northwestern Magazine

Joe Girardi as catcher for Northwestern. The former Wildcat was named the manager of Team USA for the WBSC Premier12 tournament in November.

Sophia Scanlan, Copy Chief


Joe Girardi has done almost everything he can do in the game of baseball.

He played college ball at Northwestern, sustained a 15-year career in Major League Baseball, managed the New York Yankees to a World Series title and now analyzes the sport for MLB Network.

Now, the former Wildcat is adding to his baseball resume. This November, Girardi (McCormick ’86) will attempt to usher Team USA to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games as the country’s manager at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 tournament. The top team from the Americas will earn its ticket to Tokyo next year and compete in a six-team baseball tournament in the Olympics, the first since 2008.

“This is a huge thrill for me,” the Peoria native told “I love our country. I think we live in the greatest place in the world. When the opportunity came up to represent our country and work to qualify for the Olympics, I was so honored to accept it.”

However, 2019 isn’t the first time Girardi has toyed with international baseball. In 1984, after his sophomore year at NU, Girardi missed qualifying for the Olympic team, losing out in the final round to catcher B.J. Surhoff. Girardi made up for it a year later, though, when he played for the U.S. collegiate national team at the International Cup in Canada.

This time around, Girardi and the United States will play in Guadalajara, Mexico, where beginning November 2 they will face off against the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. All four teams are members of the Premier12 — the 12 best national baseball clubs — but only the top two will advance to a Super Round in Japan, the leading nation, later that month. The Super Round will decide Olympic bids, with the last game set for Nov. 17.

If the United States wins a spot in the Olympics, Girardi will likely keep the job as team manager unless he takes the helm of an MLB team during the upcoming offseason, USA Baseball announced.

Girardi, who hit .351 and earned All-Big Ten and Academic All-American selections three times each during his years at NU, said he’s glad to return to international baseball.

“You want countries to compete against each other in a way that is healthy,” he said. “I think it’s a way of showing how we can all get along and relate. It’s a blueprint for what we should be doing in our world. The competition is so healthy for everyone involved. I’m so excited about this.”

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