Roland Hemond named 2011 winner of Buck O’Neil Award
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Roland Hemond has lived his life by the slogan enjoy the moment. He did that Tuesday after the announcement that he is the 2011 winner of the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
"I did enjoy the moment today and will relish it for the rest of my life," he said. "I am overwhelmed by what has happened today. When I was told by Jane Forbes Clark that I had won the Buck O'Neil Award it left me speechless and very emotional."
Hemond revolutionized front-office management and strategy during a seven-decade career in baseball, while spending his post-general manager days assisting baseball family members in need. He will receive the Award on July 23 as part of Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown.
"Roland Hemond has touched the lives of so many throughout the baseball family in his 60-year career, always exemplifying the traits that made Buck O'Neil such a revered figure in our sport's history," said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual for extraordinary efforts to enhance baseball's positive impact on society. It is presented by the Board of the Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at its discretion, though not more frequently than every three years.
"When you read a description of the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award - character, integrity, dignity, extraordinary efforts and positive impact - you truly are reading a description of Roland Hemond," said Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox and a member of the Hall of Fame's board. "No one in baseball is more deserving of this honor, so it is very appropriate that Roland follows Buck as the second recipient."
The Award 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.
"I got to know him quite well before his passing," said Hemond. "I was touched by his personality and generous love for people. He was supportive of youth and our game in every way possible and it was his humility that stood out. I revered the opportunity to get to know him. Buck personified being charitable and kind."
Hemond first rose to prominence in the late 1950s as the assistant scouting director for the Milwaukee Braves. Hemond helped assemble a Braves team that won National League pennants in 1957 and 1958, along with the 1957 World Series, while the Braves won at least 83 games per season from 1953 through 1966. He would become a three-time Executive of the Year recipient and helped to build winning franchises in Chicago, Baltimore and Arizona.
Hemond became the scouting director for the Los Angeles Angels in their debut season of 1961, remaining with the franchise until 1970, when he became the Chicago White Sox's general manager. With the Sox, Hemond orchestrated a 31-game improvement over the course of the 1970-72 seasons, winning the Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year award in 1972. Hemond remained the White Sox's general manager through the 1985 season, assembling the team – led by manager Tony LaRussa – that won the 1983 American League West title. Hemond won his second Executive of the Year honor in 1983.
Hemond took over as the Baltimore Orioles' general manager in 1988, this time producing a 33-game improvement in just one season. After the 1989 campaign, when the Orioles won 87 games and came within two games of a playoff berth, Hemond was again named the Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year. His work in the Orioles' front office laid the groundwork for the 1996-97 Baltimore teams that advanced to the American League Championship Series.
Hemond served as the Senior Executive Vice President for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1996-2000, guiding the franchise through its debut season of 1998. Hemond worked as an executive advisor for the White Sox from 2001-07 before returning to the Diamondbacks as a special assistant to the president in 2007, where he continues to serve Diamondbacks leadership.
"From his achievements over 23 years as a general manager, his impact on the game through programs like the Major League Baseball employee pension plan and forward-thinking ideas like the creation of the Arizona Fall League, Roland has left a lasting impression on the game," Reinsdorf continued. "But the award is about even more than lasting accomplishments. It also recognizes and honors the attitude, optimism and positive approach Roland brought to the ballpark each and every day and the wonderful friendships he has maintained within the game and with literally thousands of baseball fans over the years."
Hemond also serves as the president of the Association of Professional Baseball Players of America, which provides financial assistance and college scholarships to current and former players, scouts and others connected with pro baseball. Hemond also helped found the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, designed to provide assistance to longtime scouts who are in need of special support.
Hemond was named "King of Baseball" in 2001 by Minor League Baseball and also has baseball awards named in his honor by three organizations, recognizing his service to the game: the Chicago White Sox, "Baseball America" and the Society of American Baseball Research.
"I do believe Buck O'Neil was more satisfied helping others succeed," said Hemond. "I'm happy that during my years I've helped some people along the way. How fortunate I've been in my lifetime to be in this great game."
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum