On the 100th anniversary of Stan Musial’s birth, it’s fitting that the highest award for sportsmanship named in his honor will be presented to one of the most important and respected sports figures of all-time. Hank Aaron is the 2020 recipient of the Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an iconic sports figure who exemplifies sportsmanship and the qualities for which Musial was known. It is bestowed annually at the Musial Awards, a national event that celebrates the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and those in sports who embody class and character. And we are proud to once again be the presenting sponsor of The Musial Awards.
This year’s Musial Awards had been scheduled to take place at Stifel Theatre in St. Louis on Nov. 21, the exact date of Musial’s 100th birthday. However, due to the global pandemic, the live event will not occur. Instead, the show will go on in the form of a one-hour special that will air nationally on CBS on Saturday, Dec. 26 (time TBD). In addition to airing on the CBS Television Network, the Musial Awards will run at least twice on CBS Sports Network. Dates and times for those airings will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Musial Awards broadcast will feature the inspiring stories of its 2020 honorees. It will also celebrate Aaron, who personified excellence, humility, and dignity throughout his life and Hall of Fame career. Like Musial, Aaron was a model of consistency and longevity with 25 All-Star Game selections. He hit .300 or better 14 times, reached 30 home runs 15 times, and won three Gold Glove Awards. His crowning moment of course came in 1974 when he surpassed Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714. “Hammerin’ Hank” would finish with 755 homers.
Statistically, Aaron was in a class by himself. As both an athlete and human being, he is all class. Aaron overcame the ugliness of racism. The target of death threats and hate mail, he courageously persevered. His strength, goodness and decency make him a true American hero – and as deserving a recipient there could be for the Musial Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Our dad had such deep respect and admiration for Hank, and it’s wonderful that their connection continues through this honor,” said the Musial family. “It means so much to us that Hank had been planning to come to St. Louis to personally accept the award. While we are saddened to miss that moment this year because of the pandemic, we do look forward to the opportunity at some point to convey our appreciation to Hank and express how much he meant to Dad.”
“At a time when racial justice and equality are importantly front and center in our national conversation, it is especially meaningful that we have the chance to honor Hank Aaron and all he stood for,” said Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, which produces the Musial Awards with the National Sportsmanship Foundation. “It’s our hope that in recognizing Hank with the highest award for sportsmanship, we inspire others to strive for the respect, civility, and decency he embodies.”
As this year’s recipient of the Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship, Aaron joins a special group of honorees that includes Joe Torre (2014), Arnold Palmer (2015), Cal Ripken Jr. (2016), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (2017), Jim Thome (2018), and Bart Conner & Nadia Comaneci (2019).
Maryville University has served as the presenting sponsor since 2011.