COOPERSTOWN, New York — Joe Garagiola couldn't make the festivities in person. He wasn't about to miss being part of a special moment.
The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum held its annual awards presentation Saturday on the outfield grass of nearby Doubleday Field, honoring the 88-year-old Garagiola with the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Author Roger Angell was presented the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing and Texas Rangers announcer Eric Nadel got the Ford C. Frick Award for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.
Unable to attend because of health issues, Garagiola sent a taped message.
"The Hall of Fame is a magic phrase," Garagiola said. "It's what a player wants next to his name once he gets to the big leagues, and baseball gives you the chance. They give you the bat, the ball and it's up to you. As you look at these Hall of Famers, you can say, 'You did it.' This is your weekend."
Following a nine-year major league career that began in 1946, Garagiola had a long career in baseball broadcasting. He also founded The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) and the National Spit Tobacco Education Program. He becomes the third winner of the lifetime achievement award, which was established in 2007.
The 93-year-old Angell has been writing about baseball for The New Yorker magazine for more than five decades.
"Thanks to the Baseball Writers of America who went out of the way to select me, a non-member and a part-timer for this shining prize," he said.
Nadel has been with Texas for the past 35 years. For the last 19, he has been the lead voice on Rangers radio broadcasts.
Nadel called Nolan Ryan's 5,000th strikeout on Aug. 22, 1989, and was on air for the Rangers' six playoff berths and two American League pennants. His signature home run call, "That ball is history!" is part of Rangers lore.
"Finally, I'd like to accept this award for every kid who has ever tucked a transistor radio under his pillow to listen to a game after his parents had made him go to bed," Nadel said. "And all the kids who played Strat-O-Matic baseball, making believe they were announcing the games as I did."
Only a day away from the induction ceremony, class of 2014 members Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa were a little antsy as they anticipated their big day.
"I'm nervous as a cat," said Torre, who will have an entourage of at least 70 people. "People tell me how they would look at me in the dugout and it looked like I wasn't emotional, but I'm going to tell you that's not the case today."
"You look around and you see who's around you. It's just been a great experience," he said. "It's something they can't take away from you once it happens. It's unlike any experience I've ever had."