Joe Garagiola to Accept 2014 Buck O’Neil Award in Absentia

June 10, 2014
2014 Buck O'Neil Award winner, Joe Garagiola. (NBHOF Library)

(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) – Joe Garagiola, who was named in December as the third recipient of the John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to an individual for extraordinary efforts to enhance baseball’s positive impact on society, will accept his award in absentia and will not attend Hall of Fame Weekend. 

Garagiola, 88, has been advised by doctors not to travel due to continuing health concerns. 

“My doctors have advised me not to travel long distances, so it is with great sadness that I will not be present in Cooperstown over Hall of Fame Weekend to accept the Buck O’Neil Award,” Garagiola said. “I am grateful to the Hall of Fame Board of Directors for this tremendous honor, named for one of the game’s greatest ambassadors.” 

Following a nine-year major league career that started in 1946, Garagiola 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 became 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 executive Roland Hemond was honored with the second Buck O’Neil Award in 2011. 

The Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award 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.  A permanent, life-size bronze statue of O’Neil is located at the Hall of Fame on the Museum’s first floor and serves as the home for the Award. The statue of O’Neil was created by nationally renowned sculptor Williams Behrends. 

Garagiola will accept the award through a video recording as part of the Awards Presentation on Saturday, July 26 at Doubleday Field. During the Award Presentation, Roger Angell of The New Yorker will be presented with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions in baseball writing and Eric Nadel, longtime voice of the Texas Rangers, will be honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting.