Joe Gemelli – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Joe Gemelli is recognized as being one of the greatest New Orleans Saints fans of all time. In 1990, Gemelli was honored by the Saints Hall of Fame with the Fleur de Lis Award, presented for outstanding support by non-players or coaches. After his death in 1991 at the age of 76, the honor was renamed the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis Award.
He was known for organizing fan donations to cover player fines and also known for never missing a game – the only one he missed was in the 1980s when he had a heart attack – he still made sure a tv was brought to his room so he could watch.
Gemelli was more than a fan, however. He was a founder of the Touchdown Club and helped organize the Italian Open – a leading local sports charity.
The Touchdown Club of New Orleans was formed when Saints linebreaker Steve Stonebreaker was fined $1,000 by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. Gemelli and others pulled together a group to pay the fine for Stonebreaker. They were known as the Enforcers Club after Stonebreaker’s nickname but became the Touchdown Club. It is now a registered charity which gives back to the community in many ways.
Gemelli also strove to preserve professional baseball through his support of the Pelicans (the professional baseball team from 1887 to 1997. In addition, he worked with the Commercial Athletic Association and supported the Turkey Bowl.