---- — Staff Report
Joe Garagiola has waited a lifetime for this.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors selected former Major League Baseball player and national broadcaster Garagiola as the winner of the 2014 John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, the Cooperstown shrine announced Wednesday.
“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 in a media release prepared by the Hall. “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.”
Garagiola, 87, is the third winner of the award, which was established in 2007 to honor O’Neil, who died in 2006, for his eight decades of contributions to baseball. Long-time executive Roland Hemond received the second O’Neil Award in 2011.
The award is presented by the Hall’s Board of the Directors at its discretion, though not more frequently than every three years. A permanent, life-size, bronze statue of O’Neil, which was created by sculptor Williams Behrends, is located on the Hall’s first floor and serves as the home for the award.
Garagiola won the Hall’s 1991 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence. He also hosted game shows, parades, dog shows and morning television programs during his career, which followed a nine-year MLB career that started in 1946.
Garagiola also has 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, Garagiola also is the founder of The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) and the National Spit Tobacco Education Program.
Garagiola will receive the O’Neil Award during the Hall’s annual Awards Presentation on July 26 in Cooperstown. His honor will be part of the 2014 Hall of Fame Weekend.
“Joe Garagiola has spent eight decades in and around baseball, and has enhanced the lives of so many fans and players,” Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark said in a media release. “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,” she continued. “We are extremely honored to present him with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The Hall accepts nominations for the award through written submissions via mail at any time. The next O’Neil Award is eligible to be presented in 2017.