Joe Apodaca was born in Valdez, Colorado to a father from Mora, New Mexico and a mother from Madrid, Spain. He started working in the mines of Valdez at the age of sixteen, and graduated high school from Primero, Colorado in 1933. Makes specific mention that he was hired at a mine because he was a good baseball player. Later he worked in a C.C.C. camp in Boulder, Colorado. Served in the military in the Pacific for a time.