Former pro baseball player and radio/TV personality Joe Garagiola will receive the 2014 John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Award at the Baseball Hall of Fame Awards Presentation on July 26.
The award is “presented to an individual for extraordinary efforts to enhance baseball’s positive impact on society,” according to a release. Garagiola is the third winner of the irregular award, first given in 2008.
Garagiola played from 1946–1954 for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and New York Giants. Upon retiring he began broadcasting Cardinals games on St. Louis’ KMOX(AM). He also worked for NBC Radio calling several World Series in the 1960s.
Garagiola migrated to television where he broadcast games for NBC for multiple decades with several partners — notably Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek and Vin Scully.
He also made a mark as a TV show host. Garagiola hosted many game shows, was a regular on the “Today Show” and even guest hosted the “Tonight Show” on several occasions. He also regularly hosted the New Year’s Day Orange Bowl Parade and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He authored three books about baseball as well.
Beyond his broadcast activities, Garagiola was recognized for charitable activities: “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,” a release explained.
Furthermore, “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.”
Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Jane Forbes Clark said, “Joe Garagiola has spent eight decades in and around baseball, and has enhanced the lives of so many fans and players.” She added, “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.”
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.”