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Joe Garagiola Named Buck O’Neil Award Winner

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors has selected Joe Garagiola as the recipient of the 2014 John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to an individual for extraordinary efforts to enhance baseball’s positive impact on society.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Award will be presented to Garagiola in Cooperstown at the Awards Presentation on Saturday, July 26, as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2014. Following a nine-year major league career that started in 1946, Garagiola, 87, has 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 (B.A.T.) and the National Spit Tobacco Education Program.

Garagiola becomes the third winner of the Buck O'Neil Award, which was established in 2007 to honor an individual whose efforts broadened the game's appeal and whose character, integrity and dignity is comparable to the late 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. Long-time Diamondbacks' executive Roland Hemond 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, Chairman 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."

"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.