1927 - 2013
January 6, 1927
April 27, 2013
January 6, 1927 to April 27, 2013 Paul Giovagnoli, a life-long inventor known widely as the father of the modern baseball pitching machine, died April 27, 2013, with his beloved wife, Joyce Thomas Giovagnoli, at his side. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 AM Thursday, May 2, 2013 at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 4737 N Cleveland, burial in Resurrection Cemetery. Friends may call from 6-8 PM Wednesday at the Church where a Prayer Service will be at 7:45 PM. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital. Paul was born January 6, 1927 in an immigrant farming community near Girard, Kansas. He grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs and tinkerers, proudly calling himself a pretty good 'junkyard mechanic,' something he learned from his father, Paul, an Italian immigrant, and older brother, Jim, who inspired him to re-purpose old farm equipment into new machines. His mother, Madeline, and older sister Eugenia, were equally industrious and creative, teaching Paul at a young age that engineering and design was as much a part of making a home as it was of running a farm. Paul came of age during World War II, graduating at 16 from high school and attending two years of college at Pittsburgh State Teachers College before joining the Navy at 18 to train in the prestigious new field of RADAR. He was a proud naval veteran who counted among his most life-altering experiences his service at Bikini Atoll, where he witnessed the third and fourth nuclear bomb blasts during military experiments in 1946. Upon his discharge he returned to Kansas, graduating from K-State in 1948 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He became an instructor at K-State, specializing in teaching mechanical engineering to non- engineers, and went on to work as a methods engineer for Boeing and Ford during the early 1950s. His baseball career began when he opened a pair of golf driving ranges in Wichita and Topeka. He wanted to add baseball to his ranges in 1951, but pitching machines at the time were hard-to-find and notoriously unreliable. So he built a simple, arm- type machine of his own design from scraps found in a junkyard. His machine gained a reputation as 'the Model T of baseball' for its reliability and ease of repair. Over the next 60 years, the strength of that aluminum arm worked deeply to shape American baseball culture, as batting cages and training machines spread across the country, and players from the little leagues to virtually every Major League club took their swings against an 'Iron Mike.' In November 1957, he noticed the legs of the pretty bookkeeper in the A & N hardware store in North Kansas City. Four months later, on April 12, 1958, Paul and Joyce Elaine Thomas began a marriage that would inspire their ten children with its tenderness and devotion for fifty-five years. During the early sixties, he was active in the Republican Party, running twice for state office. Paul and Joyce eventually sold Commercial Mechanisms so that Paul could turn his attention to other designs, including coin box mechanisms, and automatic sprayers for car washes, creating the 'Mr. G.' brand of automatic car washing machines with businesses around the Kansas City area. In the 1970s, the oil crisis inspired Paul to design a new line of wood- burning stoves and an innovative stove kit that allowed consumers to make a stove from an oil barrel. During this same period, he also began Durastill, Inc, a company that manufactures electric water distillers. In 1976, he returned to his first love, the pitching machine, starting Master Pitching Machine, which remains the leader in its field for baseball and softball pitching machines, equipment, and range designs. Paul held numerous patents on his designs. Even in his hospital bed, he was designing tools to help with his own rehabilitation. He remained engaged and alert to the end, proud of his large family and the lessons in kindness, industriousness, and creativity that he taught them all. A man of deep faith, he belonged to St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in Kansas City North for more than fifty years. He is survived by his wife, partner, and 'sweet patootie' Joyce, Kansas City; sister-in-law, Janet Forbes (Ed) of Phoenix, Arizona; ten sons and daughters: Mary E. Giovagnoli (Michael Kades), Washington, DC; Jim Giovagnoli (Mary M.), Kansas City, MO; Tom Giovagnoli (Cassandra), San Francisco, CA; Anita Marple (Perry), Lander, WY; Elizabeth Thompson (Jeff), Kansas City, MO; Joe Giovagnoli (Michele), Leawood, KS; Pete Giovagnoli (Greg Tefs), Chicago, Illinois; Cathy Curry (Ryan), Nixa, MO; Michelle Cox, Kansas City, MO; Andrea Giovagnoli (Brad Meyer), Kansas City, MO; and 17 grandchildren: David, Anthony, Hannah, Cassie, Andrew, Tate, Connor, Rebecca, Chase, Rachel, Lily, Sully, Rollie, Jason, Nolan, Gina, and Madeline; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Arr.'s: McGilley Antioch Chapel. M
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Published by Kansas City Star from Apr. 30 to May 1, 2013.
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25 Entries
To Mrs. Giovagnoli, Mary and the rest of the family,

Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. He was indeed an incredible. man. He even found time to teach our Sunday School class at St. Gabriel's one year. I still have the book he bought all of his students.

Hold tight to the memories (and each other). I'll keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.
Mary (Hake) Carroll
May 7, 2013
Dear Joe, 4/30/13
Learned of your father's unexpected passing early this morning when we spotted his notable obituary in the Kansas City Star. What an inspiring life he lived. It's no surprise; you are the mensch you are. Passed from father to son(s) (and daughters) your father's enduring legacy lives on in you, your siblings, and all of his grandchildren. Please accept our sincere condolences.
May you find comfort in the blessings of his well lived life and the multitude of tender memories you, no doubt, have of your dad.
Please extend our love and expressions of sympathy to Michele and Lily.
With much affection and heartfelt compassion~
Sandy and Flip
May 6, 2013
Joyce and kids, Jim and I just learned of Paul's passing. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you so much for sharing the video. It was such a beautiful and fitting tribute to Paul's life (though trying to guess who's who after 25-years was no easy feat). I shall always carry fond memories of my time spent at DI and all that I learned while working for Mr G. May your memories carry you through until you are with him again. Jim & Cheryl Melton
May 2, 2013
Much love to our friends The Giovagnoli Family. Sweet memories from Chouteau Elementary through Winnetonka High School. My dad still talks about the pitching machine your dad donated to the baseball team. Your dad was one of a kind. Our prayers are with you!

The Clubines
LeRoy Clubine
May 1, 2013
A wonderful mentor with an amazing history. He will truly be missed. Blessed thoughts to the Giovagnoli family.
Rick & Shelley Dawson
May 1, 2013
Andrea, may your wonderful memories carry you through the saddest of times.
Debbie Humston
May 1, 2013
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Giovagnoli family, and our dear, dear friends, Mary, Mike and Rebecca.
Stacey, Brad, Sydney & Alyssa Albert
May 1, 2013
Joyce and family, we are so sad to hear of your husband/father's passing. Lori and J have had many great times at your home where they enjoyed your generosity and friendship. Our prayers and love to you all. The Jenkins
May 1, 2013
I am grateful for the life of Mr. Giovagnoli. Thanks to his service and to the service of others in our armed forces, my family and I have been able to lead our lives in freedom and peace.

Well done, Paul.
April 30, 2013
Paul had such an impact on my life. He was more than my employer. He was a mentor, a fatherly figure, and a Godly role model. I am forever grateful to Paul and the Giovagnoli family.
David Dollinger
April 30, 2013
I am very sorry to hear of your tremendous loss. What an amazing life he had... he was such a brillliant man. Joe, I hope you and your family are doing well.
Sam DiSalvo
April 30, 2013
May God bless and comfort you all in this time of sorrow. My brother John and I worked for Paul ay Commercial Mech in the 60's and admired and respected him very much.
Frank & Kay Criscione
April 30, 2013
With deepest sympathy.
Jon Patterson
April 30, 2013
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Mary, Michael and Rebecca and all your family members, especially your mom, Mary. Our love always.
Beth, Rod, Laura & Meg Egan
April 30, 2013
Joe, we are sorry for the loss of your father. He was quite a man. I know you are proud of him. He and your family will be in our prayers.
Ron & Claudia Seggi
Ron Seggi
April 30, 2013
Our Dear Uncle Bud has gone home to heaven and I feel deeply for Aunt Joyce and my cousins who must be missing this kind and gentle man. God bless each of you
Mary Ann Cutolo
April 30, 2013
April 30, 2013
Andrea and family,
Sending my heart felt condolences to you. I have not forgotten how difficult it is to endure the loss of a parent. I know you will find comfort and peace from such a wonderful family, and God's love. Reach out for his love and comfort, it is there; it is all around you. With love and prayers for healing.
Erin Stichnot (KCMO)
April 30, 2013
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time. May God bless you with peace and comfort in the days ahead.
Lonnie & Sandra Wheeler
April 30, 2013
I guess I know what didn't feel right yesterday and today....the world is missing Mr. Giovagnoli. There are no families that have had as profound an effect on my life as the Giovagnoli's. As the patriarch of his family, Mr. G's inventions, simple approach to life despite amazing successes by almost any measure, and family-oriented life choices carry lessons with me to this day. Not only am I proud to have known him and your entire family growing up, I often think of all of you on a regular basis. This week will certainly contain dinner table stories of my childhood and times with the Giovagnoli family led by Mr. G.

One of the first things I noted when we moved to the Virgin Islands 4 years ago was a rusted wheeled pitching machine at my kids' school...why the heck did they not have an Iron Mike!! Growing up hitting literally thousands of baseballs pitched from the Iron Mike, I didn't even know other machines existed.
Final thoughts are especially for Mrs. G tonight. The prototype mother in my mind to this heart is aching tonight for your loss. No words can ease your pain, but please know many in this world are praying for you and your loss tonight...especially Sam.
Please accept our sincerest condolences from the Hughes family.
Sam Hughes
April 29, 2013
Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Donnie & Anne Hedgebeth
April 29, 2013
Dear Aunt Joyce and Cousins, How blessed we all were to have him in our lives! I can picture him in heaven, basking in the love of God and sending his love to his family. I'm sure that in no time he will be working with God on projects,..
Midge Weir
April 29, 2013
May the Lord give you peace and comfort during this time of loss & sadness.
Larry Horinbein
April 29, 2013
Uncle Bud: Such a gentle man....sweetest Uncle in the world!! Love you, Love you, Love you!
Toni Dodd (Cutolo)
April 29, 2013
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Bill & Agnes Meyer
April 28, 2013