When the Baseball Assistance Team was founded in 1986, Joe Garagiola Sr. was one of the founding fathers of the organization and was instrumental in its success assisting members of the Baseball Family in need. Joe was selected President of B.A.T. in 1989 and served in that capacity for 14 years until 2002. Joe truly understood the need for B.A.T. and the purpose of its mission. In the 1980s and 1990s, Joe was the face of the organization. It was through his passion for helping those in need that Joe brought MLB, MLBPA and the Freedom Foundation together to establish an endowment of a combined one million dollars in 1991.
During Joe's tenure, he was instrumental in ensuring that the B.A.T. charter not only included former Major League players, but also Minor League players, coaches, umpires, scouts, athletic trainers, front office personnel, Negro League players and players from the Women's Professional Baseball League. In 2010, Joe was the recipient of the B.A.T. Lifetime Achievement Award which annually recognized an individual who was dedicated to the betterment of members of the Baseball Family who are in need.
Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth: "I had been Commissioner only a number of weeks before Joe came to the office and informed me of the difficult circumstances confronting many former players. From that point, we worked with Joe and a number of former players in finding a model which could serve to close the financial gap for these former players and their families. The result was this organization which has grown into the current-day B.A.T. I give Joe a lot of credit for moving this initiative forward. Joe had a very big heart for serving others."
B.A.T. Consultant Sam McDowell: "Over the past 30 years of B.A.T., there have been a number of fantastic individuals involved in the organization, but no one who played a bigger role than Joe Garagiola Sr. Joe was there at the start and enhanced the organization to what it is today. He also was persistent in visiting a number of businesses for donations as well as spreading awareness. I came to B.A.T. because of the original suicide attempts we were able to avert. In the 29 continuous years I've been a consultant for B.A.T., Joe was priceless and no one could or will ever take his place."
B.A.T. President Randy Winn: "The Baseball Family and the Baseball Assistance Team lost a legend with the passing of Joe Garagiola. As one of our 'founding fathers,' Joe served as an inspiration to so many members of the B.A.T. Board, including myself, with his passion for the organization, and I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of his legacy with my role in B.A.T. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Garagiola family at this time."