The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum named Joe Garagiola the recipient of the 2014 Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday.
The award is presented annually to an individual for extraordinary efforts to enhance baseball’s positive impact on society. It will be presented to Garagiola in Cooperstown on July 26 as part of Hall of Fame weekend.
Garagiola, a former player, broadcaster and longtime contributor to the game, is the third winner of the award, which was
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established in 2007 to honor O’Neil, who passed away in 2006 after eight decades of
contributions to the game. O’Neil was honored as the first recipient of
the Award in 2008. Longtime executive Roland Hemond, a special assistant to the Diamondbacks, was honored with
the second Buck O’Neil Award in 2011.
“Joe Garagiola has spent eight decades in and around baseball and has
enhanced the lives of so many fans and players,” said Jane Forbes Clark,
chairperson of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “He has
promoted the positive impact of baseball on society and embodies the
spirit of the Buck O’Neil Award. The Board is recognizing Joe’s
character, integrity and dignity; and his countless hours of tireless
work with B.A.T. and the Spit Tobacco Education Program, for the sole
benefit of those in need of assistance and education. He gained national
fame as a broadcaster who went beyond baseball to use his celebrity
platform to make a difference for others. We are extremely honored to
present him with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Following a nine-year major league career that started in 1946, Garagiola, 87, worked for years in broadcasting, most recently for the Diamondbacks, and dedicated his life to helping others in the game through his role in founding two organizations to impact baseball in a positive manner: The Baseball Assistance Team and the National Spit Tobacco Education Program.
“Supposedly I made a career out of putting words together, but at this moment, I cannot express what it means to me to receive this honor,” Garagiola said. “I think of the great Tug McGraw line when he said, ‘Two years out of baseball, you are a trivia question.’ Well now, to be recognized for the Hall of Fame for my lifetime achievement, is just tremendous. I wish I could find the words to say thank you to the Board of Directors for this honor. What a thrill!”
As one of the founders of B.A.T., Garagiola was the foundational leader in helping to build an organization dedicated to helping the baseball community in need, helping secure the first $1 million endowment for an organization that today has distributed over $28 million in grants to over 3,000 individuals since 1986. Garagiola also has worked tirelessly for education on tobacco, helping to found the National Spit Tobacco Education Program, helping the game create a Smokeless Tobacco Policy and testifying before Congress on multiple occasions on the harmful effects of tobacco.
A renowned national broadcasting voice following his playing career, Garagiola was previously presented with the 1991 Ford C. Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame for broadcasting excellence. As an announcer who transcended the sport by hosting game shows, parades, dog shows and morning television programs, Garagiola has also dedicated countless hours to charitable work for the St. Peter’s Indian Mission on the Pima Reservation in Arizona. The author of three baseball books, including a New York Times’ best-seller, “Baseball is a Funny Game,” Garagiola has been a popular and beloved personality throughout the game for nearly 60 years.
The Buck O’Neil Award is open to nominations from the public to the Hall of Fame, at any time, through written submissions. The next O’Neil Award is eligible to be presented in 2017.
Nominations should detail how the proposed candidate carries O’Neil’s extraordinary traits. Letters should be submitted to: Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, 25 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY, 13326. Only submissions received by mail will be considered.