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Frank Viverito retires after years of luring big sporting events to St. Louis

"Frank Viverito has been a treasure to this city,” said ESPN broadcaster Joe Buck.

ST. LOUIS — For Frank Viverito, leadership has always been about relationships.

"I mean, Frank Viverito has been a treasure to this city,” said ESPN broadcaster Joe Buck.

"When I think of Frank, it's always in a great light. His smile always lights up a room,” said Hall of Fame baseball player Ozzie Smith.

As president of the Sports Commission, it's been Frank Viverito’s job to attract, create and manage sporting events. He was hired in 1995.

"It was an interesting time,” said former commission chairman Doug Albrecht. “You know, it was the early years of the Sports Commission, and so we were really about raising money. So Frank, who had this wonderful personality, could talk to anybody and had a great attention for detail but all of a sudden had to turn into a salesman. So, Frank and I had some great days together. I taught him to be a salesman, and he taught me to be a nicer person."

During his tenure, St. Louis has hosted dozens of high-profile events including the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Fours, 12 NCAA Wrestling Championships, the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, The PGA Championship and the US Olympic Gymnastics Trials.

"Being able to put a team together that can go in and make the pitches and then we come out victorious. That's because of Frank's leadership,” said Olympic great Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

"He's not the front person on everything,” said Mark Lombardi, current commission chairman and president of Maryville University. "His personal stamp of goodwill and good actions is on so many things in this town. I mean, if we sat here and made a list of all the things over these many years that he's brought to St. Louis and helped in this community, I think it would blow people away."

Perhaps his greatest legacy will be the Musial Awards. It was his vision that turned a small annual dinner honoring sportsmanship into a nationally televised broadcast that creates ripples across the country, as it shines a light on the very best of humanity through athletics.

"So, in many ways, his legacy is gonna be played out really for the rest of this century, in the lives of five and 10 and 15 and 20 and 25 year olds who are gonna go on and do amazing things,” said Lombardi. "And I can't think of a better legacy than that."

But now Viverito has announced his retirement.

"When I heard that he was gonna retire, I guess I was really surprised because I don't know what he is gonna do,” said Albrecht.

"I've never seen him swing a golf club. I've never seen him shoot a basketball. Maybe it's Paddle ball?” said Smith.

Maybe retirement isn't the end of the road, but a new beginning.

"Frank is an amazing human being who's so committed to athletics, to sportsmanship, to youth sports, to the power of what athletics can do, not just for the participants, but in society,” said Lombardi.

"I don't think he gets the credit he deserves,” said Buck. "For how much he loves the City of St. Louis and how much work he put into, to put this city on the map."

"Kick your shoes off Frank,” said Joyner-Kersee. "Relax, enjoy the family. Even though I know he'll still be helping out wherever he can."

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