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Hours before his death, superfan Mo Gaba is elected to Orioles Hall of Fame, named winner of Wild Bill Hagy Award

Orioles superfan Mo Gaba was elected into the team Hall of Fame as the second recipient of The Wild Bill Hagy Award, the Orioles announced Tuesday.

Gaba, 14, has been blind since he was 9 months old because of the first of several bouts with cancer. A passionate fan of both the Orioles and Ravens, he died just hours after receiving the honor, at age 14.

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He first gained notoriety as a 9-year-old by calling into local sports radio shows, standing out with his enthusiasm and positivity. He soon began to connect with the team and its players on a regular basis, throwing out the first pitch at an Orioles game as part of Kids’ Opening Day in 2017 and called out “Play ball!” for Kids’ Opening Day in 2019.

Gaba bonded with several members of both the Orioles and the Ravens, with Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini taking over for Adam Jones as the host of the Purple Tailgate, an annual Ravens pregame event to benefit Gaba.

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Mancini, who was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in March, was among the attendees at Gaba’s graduation from Lindale Middle School in June. He credits an All-Star break spent with Gaba for helping him shake a first-half slump in 2018, propelling him into a 2019 season that earned him Most Valuable Oriole honors. Gaba surprised Mancini by attending the award ceremony.

“There is no one more deserving of this incredible honor than Mo,” Mancini said in a statement. “Throughout his battles with cancer, Mo never lost his kind spirit, his sense of humor, or his love of the Orioles. His tremendous courage and unwavering positivity in the face of such challenging circumstances have made him an inspiration to me and so many others.

“It is fitting that Mo will now have a place in the Orioles Hall of Fame alongside some of the most iconic figures in franchise history, and for him to be honored as the recipient of the Wild Billy Hagy Award is truly special. I could not be happier for my friend, Mo, and his mother, Sonsy.”

In June, Gaba’s cancer reemerged, his fifth time fighting the illness. Despite the diagnosis, he remained upbeat. Before the Orioles’ Opening Day game against the Boston Red Sox, an Orioles’ public relations staff member shared a video of Gaba’s prediction for the club’s record in the 60-game season, saying he thought Baltimore would win 45 games.

“I hope so,” he said when asked if the Orioles would win the World Series.

In 2019, Gaba became the first person to announce an NFL draft pick in Braille when he announced the Ravens’ fourth-round pick. Baltimore used the pick on Oklahoma lineman Ben Powers, a name Gaba announced enthusiastically.

The award is named for William “Wild Bill” Hagy and was established to expand the Orioles Hall of Fame to include fans “who have inspired others with their devotion to the team, and demonstrated an exceptional commitment in support of the Orioles.” Hagy, who died in 2007, was the award’s first recipient in 2008.

An official date for Gaba’s official induction into the Orioles Hall of Fame will be determined.

“Mo’s positive energy has been constant throughout every battle and continues to bring the entire city of Baltimore together in the face of ongoing crisis,” the Orioles said in a statement. “His unwavering positivity and kindness are qualities every Baltimorean aspires to emulate. Mo Gaba has impacted more people in his 14 years than most people do in an entire lifetime, and the Orioles are honored to forever celebrate him as a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.”

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