Alan Page, Roger Staubach, and Babe Ruth are among a list of seven individuals who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump during a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 16.

Presidential Medal of Freedom
Babe Ruth is among three athletes scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this month. (Image: Photofest)

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is considered the highest civilian honor in the United States, and is designed to recognize those individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interest of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural and other significant public or private endeavors.

Ruth Earns Posthumous Honor

Many athletes have received this honor since it was first introduced in 1963, with several being given the award posthumously.

That will be the case for Ruth, who died in 1948. Ruth is one of the biggest stars in American sports history, first making his mark in Major League Baseball as a pitcher before becoming the first true home run hitter in the games history. For many years, Ruth held the career marks for home runs (714) and RBIs (2,213), though those have since been surpassed.

The 76-year-old Staubach was best known as a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, leading Americas Team to Super Bowl championships in 1971 and 1977. The six-time Pro Bowl selection helped Dallas reach the playoffs in seven of his eight years as their starting quarterback. He also won the Heisman Trophy award in 1963 while playing for Navy.

Page may be receiving the medal to honor the culmination of a variety of accomplishments throughout his life. The 73-year-old played defensive lineman for Notre Dames 1966 national championship team before joining the Minnesota Vikings and winning the 1971 NFL MVP award.

But Page also served his country after his retirement from football. At the end of his on-field career, he entered the law school at the University of Minnesota, later becoming a lawyer and then joining the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992, where he served for 20 years.

Hatch, Adelson Have Connections to Gaming World

Two other honorees also have associations with the sports betting and casino gaming industries.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is among those being honored. Hatch represented Utah for more than 41 years, during which time he was one of the architects of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this year. Also receiving the award is Miriam Adelson, wife of casino mogul and anti-online gambling crusader Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson has been a particularly controversial addition to the list, with some suggesting that she is only receiving the award because she has been a prominent donor to Republican campaigns.

The Medal of Freedom has always been awarded based on service, as the award is intended, said government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman. Trump uniquely envisions government service as a business for self-enrichment, and so it comes as no surprise at all that Trump would award an otherwise honorable medal to Adelson on the grounds of who gives him the most money.

Singer Elvis Presley and former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia are also being honored posthumously.

29 figures from the sporting world had previously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom before this years class of honorees. Swimming coach Robert Kiphuth was the first, receiving his medal from John F. Kennedy in 1963. Athletes and coaches rarely earned the honor for many decades, though they have been honored more frequently in the 21st century.