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July 13, 1999

Hank Aaron

Dennis Eckersley

Carlton Fisk

Juan Marichal

Willie Mays

Cal Ripken, Jr.

Frank Robinson

Allan H. "Bud" Selig


COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for attending this press conference this afternoon. This is a great day for Major League Baseball. Not only because we are staging the final All-Star Game of the 20th Century, but because we, along with our partners at MasterCard International are celebrating 100 tremendous years of baseball. Beginning today, actually beginning right now, you have ballots in your press kits. Our fans will have the opportunity to select baseball's All-Century Team. There are a hundred names on the ballot. Fans will have the chance to vote for such great ball players as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson, as well as for the legends of the game who are with us today. You no doubt recognize the gentlemen on the dais. It is now my pleasure to introduce them. And as I do so, I would like to say to all of them publicly, you have made contributions not only to baseball but to society and this country and for generations who grew up watching you, you have no idea the impact that you've made. And today I thank you on behalf of all those fans. (Applause.) Let me begin, and I've been told that I can't make editorial comments, because for a significant number of these people I have a personal relationship, and if I start with one I've been told I'm going to be in trouble, I'm going to try to do this without making editorial comments, which for me is very difficult. The all time home run leader Hank Aaron. The great Chicago Cub, Ernie Banks. Rightfully on his way to Cooperstown a week from sun, George Brett. Lou Brock with the St. Louis Cardinals, who did so much for baseball. A man who started his career right here and went onto great things, Dennis Eckersley. Certainly one of the great pitchers of his generation or any generation, Bob Feller. One of the great relief pitchers of all time, dominating as he was, Rollie Fingers. The great catcher of the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, with the most famous home run in the history of Fenway Park, Carlton Fisk. A great right hander of the St. Louis Cardinals whose feats were legendary to say the least, Bob Gibson. The base stealing champion of all time and a great player, Ricky Henderson. The great right fielder of the Detroit Tigers, Al Kaline. One of the great sluggers of our time, Ralph Kiner. The great slugger of the Minnesota Twins, Harmon Killebrew. One of the great pitchers of his or any other generation, Juan Marichal. Great all around player, devastating player in his time, wonderful Willie Mays. One of the best hitters you'll ever see anywhere, it's hard to let an introduction go by, but here is one of my guys, Paul Molitor. Played on the Big Red Machine, and clearly one of the great players of his time, great second baseman, Joe Morgan. I said to this man before, he was the best clutch hitter, at least that I had seen in my time, Eddie Murray of the Baltimore Orioles. I don't know how to introduce him, but here is one of the great players of all time, Stan, "The Man" Musial. This man needs no introduction, but when you watched Lou Gehrig before, he has represented baseball so beautifully and so proudly, with pleasure, Cal Ripken, Jr. One of the great pitchers of his time, dominating year after year after year, pitching one complete game after another, Robin Roberts. A great player in both leagues, awesome statistics, did everything in his career, you hated to see him up with men on base, the great Frank Robinson. The next man is tough to introduce, only because he did so many things and he played third base so absolutely brilliantly, like it had never been played, Brooks Robinson. One of the great third basemen of all time, whose statistics are awesome, great, great all around player, Mike Schmidt. One of the great dominating right-handed pitchers of his generation or any generation, Tom Seaver. They didn't come any better, the great shortstop of the St. Louis Cardinals, and what a man he was, Ozzie Smith. I had the privilege of watching this man almost every start from 1953 on. A left-handed pitcher who is just unparalleled, the great Juan Spahn. And last, but not least, on his way to Cooperstown, and I guess I'd say this, I've said it before, it was a privilege to be associated with him for 20 years, Robin Yount. Thank you, gentlemen. Fans can cast their votes beginning today, through September 10th. Ballots will be available at Major League ballparks, at KMart stores, and voting will be conducted through Major League Baseball's Internet site. We are asking fans to vote for nine outfielders, six pitchers, two catchers and two players at each infield position. A special panel, which is still being formed, will have the authority to add up to five more players to the team to compensate for any oversights in the balloting process. The All-Century Team will be announced just prior to the start of the 1999 World Series. Now, it's my pleasure to introduce our partner from MasterCard, Nick Utton.

NICK UTTON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm going to try and use a South Boston accent for MasterCard. (Laughter.) Is there another way to say it? It's our third year in our spectacular relationship with Major League Baseball, and the official card. We are thrilled to partner with Major League Baseball in a celebration of the legendary players that helped shape this most spectacular game. MasterCard is presenting sponsor of the All-Century Team program, has many numerous elements to try to generate excitement amongst the fans. We have a card usage program, we've got an advertising campaign that brings priceless to life. As the commissioner just said, we've got a balloting program through an exclusive arrangement with KMart to try to get consumers to try and go ballot for these spectacular players. We've also got an execution that links priceless to try to get the families out there to vote. Consumers will automatically be entered -- these MasterCard consumers, hopefully all of you will open up that little wallet of yours, get rid of all those other little cards and make sure that MasterCard is top of the line. All of you will be automatically entered for a competition which will allow five winners to take four people to the World Series to sit with some baseball legends, some of them who are sitting here today. To support this, we've got a TV execution, which breaks tonight. We're going to give you a sneak preview, because most of you will be at the game. It breaks on Fox tonight and includes four great legends. Let's roll the tape, please. What do you think? (Applause.) It's very clear over the past century baseball has become a national pastime. To the players here, to the Major League players out there, to the fans, MasterCard salutes you, and wishes you another century of priceless moments. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Thank you very much, Nick. Now we'd like to encourage you to ask questions in the area that you'd like, and be happy to respond to those. Rich has asked me to ask you to stand up if you want to ask your questions. Does anybody have any questions?

Q. Obviously a lot of great players are here, but there were some not selected, what was the process under which all the players were selected?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Well, the explanation is in the press kit, but let me try to just go over it very briefly. They took three of the top 100 list and then asked a panel to reduce that list to a hundred. And so the top 100 list were The Sporting News, Total Baseball and the real 100 best baseball players of all time by Ken Schueler. Then we have a little group that took these lists and sort of culled them down into the hundred. And that list was comprised of Bob Costas, Jerome Holtzman, Larry Whiteside, Hal Bodley, John Rawlings, Seymour Seywoff, Ken Scheuller, Gene Orza. They are the ones that took the list and came up with the hundred the way they did it. And I think they did a remarkable job. There's always going to be a lot of people who have differing opinions, but I must say, as I looked at the list, I consider myself a baseball historian, but the fact of the matter is is that I think they did a remarkable job.

Q. Mr. Commissioner, how do you not turn it into a popularity contest?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: That's a good question, and it was one that we frankly have raised. The fans are going to vote, hopefully we've given enough latitude here so that people will have the ability, the way they understand not only what they're doing, but make the right selection, the way they see it. I think we've built in enough latitude here so that we're going to add some players at the end, five, I believe, to make up for any inequities that somehow happened in the process. This group will be able to add five people in case there's some oversights that have taken place. But I'm hopeful that in the end that the fans of America will do the right thing.

Q. (Inaudible.)

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: As far as the fan voting?

Q. (Inaudible.)

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: As I said, the fans can vote for nine outfielders and six pitchers and so on and so forth. Once the 30 players are picked, the panel will pick a starting line-up.

Q. Why is Major League Baseball comfortable with the names of Joe Jackson and Pete Rose on this list, when these two people are suspended for life and are nonentities as far as baseball is concerned?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I tell you why, we're comfortable with that. Either Pete Rose or Joe Jackson's official status has nothing to do with the selection of the All-Century Team. They're great players, they're entitled to be on the ballot. Frankly, it doesn't in any way -- I want to be very precise in the way I say it, it doesn't in any way affect the status with Major League Baseball. However, they are two players that have made an impact on the field and they're entitled to be on the ballot. But it does not, in any way, alter the circumstances both of them are under right now.

Q. How could you then justify if those players were 2 of the 30, that these were two players recognized as 2 of the 30 greatest players, but not be eligible for the Hall of Fame?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: If the fans choose them amongst their 30 players, they're entitled to do that. That does not, in my judgment, affect what Landis did or Bartlett Giamatti did, nor affect my thinking, to be quite candid about it.

Q. As a follow-up, how can the fans vote for those two, but baseball writers can't in the Hall of Fame?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I think that we've been through that a lot, but all I can say in the Landis situation, I think that's been well-documented. And in the Pete Rose situation he signed a voluntary lifetime suspension, and I just don't choose to plow that ground again, especially as we celebrate this. I don't think there's anything new or if there's anything new that I would do to change what Bartlett did.

Q. Was Pete Rose invited to this luncheon today?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Pete Rose was not invited to the luncheon today.

Q. Why wasn't he invited?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: As part of his suspension ban that he voluntary signed with Bartlett in August of 1989, attendance at any function like that was forbidden.

Q. Cal, how does it feel to be up there surrounded by all those players?


Q. This is directed to Dennis and Carlton. After the grandeur of last evening's barrage of long balls at Fenway, wondering about your feelings about keeping Fenway, keeping it as is, refurbishing it or doing a new one. What are your thoughts on it, Carlton and Dennis?

CARLTON FISK: Some of those balls that Mark McGwire hit last night, if they hit them in the new ballpark, they would have gone out of the old ballpark. (Laughter.) So what do I think about that? I think Fenway Park has had some marvelous memories, and I think that if in the process of creating this new, brand new old-fashioned Fenway Park that these old memories aren't going to disappear. The home run is not going to have not been hit. The wins and losses and the exciting times that have happened in Fenway Park, aren't going to disappear, they're still going to remain as the careers of all the people up here are going to be in everybody's head that is a baseball fan forever, whether you make the team or you don't make the team. And the same thing is going to happen with the new ballpark. I think it's going to be a good thing. I think it's going to allow the Red Sox organization to be more competitive as the years go on, because the game has turned into a presentation of the game as opposed to just the game. There's a lot more elements involved in putting a competitive team on the field. I think in the long run -- I think -- first of all in the short run people aren't going to like to lose the old ballpark. But you bring your memories to the new ballpark, and it's supposed to be brand new old-fashioned ballpark, as Cal has experienced in Baltimore, and in Cleveland and Texas and Colorado. I think overall it's going to be a real positive, positive project.

DENNIS ECKERSLEY: I feel the same way, in a different way, as far as time goes on, and my career just ended, so I think I can get into that. You've got to put the past behind. I'd love to remember all the good times, but they'll always be there. To me, you have to move on with the times. And that's just how I feel. Everybody has their own opinions.

Q. A question for Hank Aaron, I was wondering if you thought that today's climate with the short fences, the small strike zone, all this stuff that's created to inflate offensive statistics, do you think baseball has kind of turned its back on the legends of the game; guys like you and Willie? It's so much easier to get inflated stats today than it was back when you were playing?

WILLIE MAYS: What I think, most people -- no offense to these great pitchers, I think most people go to the game to see offensive. And they go out there to see a player like Mark McGwire, when you talk about almost 30,000 people out there to see a Home Run Hitting Contest, that tells you something, that they want to see offense, they want to see guys hit the ball out of the ballpark. I can appreciate defense and offense, but I think the most important thing, I think, in baseball right now, people go out to the ballpark, these kids -- talk about McGwire hitting the ball 500 feet instead of a no-hitter.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I'd like to introduce Reggie Jackson.

Q. Mr. Commissioner, on a typical All-Star roster you have nine pitchers and six outfielders, but here it's reversed, could you explain the rationale?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I'm told that as they culled the numbers down there were more outfielders than pitchers, they were trying to make it as representative given the numbers they were given. I don't know if I agree with their logic, but I'm one of the great second guessers of all time, as people can tell you. But that's the logical answer.

Q. For Bob Gibson, after your great year in '68, with the inflated statistics we're seeing, do you favor raising the mound back up?

BOB GIBSON: Yes. I've been asked that question before, and it seems to me whenever there's any legislation on baseball to improve the game it's always make the pitcher a little less effective. And yes, I would like to see the mounding back up. And I can see the strike zone a little bigger up and down, not sideways, and I'd like for them to take the guys, give them two strikes, two balls, all those things (laughter.)

Q. This is for Tom Seaver. What are your thoughts in having pitched in Wrigley Field, any thoughts on that, which will soon be the last classic ballpark in a few years?

TOM SEAVER: My thoughts on pitching at Wrigley Field? Depends if the wind is blowing in or out. And also it depends on if Billy Williams is in the line up. Ernie hit right-handed, it didn't make any difference if he played or not. One of the great things of playing baseball and getting a chance to play in places like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, this generation of individuals up here were able to do it. There's a generation coming along that are not going to ever play in Fenway Park. And you hear it, you see the names written on the scoreboard on leftfield, there is a piece of history that's dying. But I agree with what Pudge says. You have to move on. There's an economic pressure that has to be addressed. If you can carry forward all those qualities of that new ballpark, it's going to be terrific. But we are fortunately a group that's been able to play in those two kind of ballparks.

Q. Ernie, you tried to straighten Seaver out a little on that, to defend Wrigley Field?

ERNIE BANKS: What everybody knows, Wrigley Field is the finest ballpark in the world, right guys? Right? (Applause.)

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Let the record show that Mike Schmidt agreed with that statement 110 percent.

ERNIE BANKS: We'll take a little poll here. All the hitters that love playing in Wrigley Field, please stand up. (Hank Aaron stood up.)

Q. I have a question for Juan Marichal. Juan, with Latin ball players, the question is always set to Roberto Clemente's standards. Do you see any ball players at this time from Latin America that fit that particular mold of Roberto Clemente?

JUAN MARICHAL: I always say that we weren't going to see another Roberto for many years, maybe never. I used to watch him play rightfield in Pittsburgh, and I don't think there is anybody in the game that can play like Roberto. I know that Sammy Sosa is trying to, he always says that he got inspired from Roberto, and we he wants to be like Roberto, and he can run and throw, but anybody that watched Roberto Clemente play, in my day I see a lot of good ball players, and I only always say there's only one Willie Mays and only one Roberto Clemente.

Q. Reggie, baseball has got a lot of inflated statistics now offensively, and Bob Gibson mentioned raising the mound. Do you think the designated-hitter should be removed from baseball with the inflated statistics in baseball?

REGGIE JACKSON: I DH'd a lot, if that's the way of saying it, but I guess I'm a traditionalist at heart. While I really would be against them taking the designated-hitter away, I do think that I will enjoy seeing Cal Ripken possibly extend his career, and some of the players that have extended their career and the fans that want to see them as the designated-hitter. I do like the fact that it does keep the two leagues separate and gives you something to argue about with the American and the National League, which again is part of the game. I don't think that the designated-hitter creates that much of an impact on the way that the game is offensively now. I think if you want to talk about the difference in offense now, in the '90s as to the difference in the offense in the way it was in the '60s and '70s, when the players on the dais here played, and some in the '80s, it's the same thing that all the guys could give you the basic same answer, there are some 10, 12 more teams. I remember watching baseball when there were eight teams in each League, and they played at some of the great places that we're all very aware of. But the talent has certainly been spread around in the four franchises, in the four Major Leagues, there's over 120 teams right now, you take a look at the amount of talent, it just isn't there. Ernie Banks and myself were talking this morning, and you go to different stats around the League, and you go into Shea Stadium, and they have 4, 5 starters that threw over 90 miles an hour. We're talking to Fergie Jenkins, and in one season he had 30 complete games. Bob Gibson had many, many seasons of over 300 innings. I remember listening to a baseball game when I was in Modesto, California, and listening to Spahn and Marichal pitch 16 innings. The game has changed, the talent is different, the ballpark, the venues are smaller. Great seasons now are 140 RBI's and 50 and 60 home runs, and you have some of the greatest players in the world that are up here now that ever played, and never hit 50. So it's different. We do our best to accept it and the game has changed and life changes it and it goes on and we're all here to enjoy it.

Q. This is for Eddie Murray. Eddie, when you were a rookie the minimum salary was like 18,000, 19,000? In what ways has the money helped make today's players better, condition-wise, and has it in any way hurt the way the game is played?

EDDIE MURRAY: You don't like to say money hurt the game. The way I would put it, guys are now more conscious of wanting their careers to be extended, to play as long as they can, some of them. Minimally I don't think they really want to play, but I think they want to stay in shape all year-round. I think that's one way the game has changed. I think technically back in the early '70s and stuff like that, you might have had to get yourself another job or played winter ball or something of that nature. But the game -- I think the guys, I don't think they love it, but to me, I think everybody up here at this table loved the game of baseball. And we see it played, but I still prefer the old days.

Q. Mr. Spahn and Mr. Marichal, can you talk about (inaudible)?

JUAN MARICHAL: Well, I don't know if everybody in this room knows the story about that game. Going into the 9th, I think they wanted to take me out. And I said I wanted to stay a few more innings. So I kept arguing to stay in the game. So finally around the 5th inning, I told him, I said, listen, that old guy that's pitching over there (laughter.), is 42 years old, I'm 22, and I don't want to get out of here while he's staying on the mound. So last year we were in Cooperstown and Juan was telling his story, and he told his manager, oh, that little kid isn't going to beat me, so I'm going to stay here, too.

WARREN SPAHN: Juan, what are you talking about? I'm the guy that threw the home run and he's telling everybody about how I did it. I don't understand that. He's the luckiest son of a gun that ever lived, but I will say one of the greatest pitchers, we had Juan in trouble several times during the ballgame, I, for one, hit a double in the first inning, I have to throw that in, and to top it off Juan was up and didn't go any further than second base, we didn't hit the ball into the infield. Juan was the kind of pitcher that got tougher with the situation, and the next time I pitch against him I'll beat his ass (laughter.)

JUAN MARICHAL: I don't remember that, but don't blame me for the home run, blame Willie.

HANK AARON: You forget, you couldn't score on a single. You hit the double but we took two singles, and you never got any further than third base. (Laughter.)

WARREN SPAHN: You didn't hit the ball out of the park, either.

Q. This is for Mike Schmidt. Mike, earlier you had some reactions to Wrigley Field when Ernie was talking about it. Could you just for a moment briefly talk about your career there? You won two divisions there, hit a lot of home runs there.

MIKE SCHMIDT: Wrigley Field is a pretty popular field here at the press conference. Well, I was telling Tom I wouldn't let a guy hit home runs anywhere in Wrigley Field, I was third in line. It was just a fun place to go. Chicago is a great town. You got to play ball in the daytime and go to some great restaurants and do some neat things later in the evening (laughter.) I don't think my wife is in the room, and she knows what I mean by that. She went to Chicago with me every time we went there, my wife did. I'm getting deeper and deeper (laughter.) Back to the ballpark issue. We had great games, 23-22 game, 14-13, four-home-run game. But I had just as many games where Eckersley was on the mound and struck out four times or Fergie Jenkins was out there throwing a little slider and I was grounded out to third base four times. You never remember the bad games in Wrigley Field. But that's the great thing about the novelty ballparks, they give you an opportunity in ballgames for so many different things to happen. Those were wonderful places to go with great history, Wrigley Field would be one of the ballparks that will be always a part of my career.

Q. I'd like to ask two questions. One for Frank Robinson and one for Juan Marichal. For Marichal, he pitched those 18 innings, did he put any ice on his elbow, and was he limited to pitch a certain amount of inning each season? And the other one is for Frank Robinson. If he ever thought of wearing all those things that the hitters are wearing right now, the shoulder pads and the elbow pads and so on?

FRANK ROBINSON: No. Just stick those elbows out there, and let them go. No, I never thought of it. If you put it out there and get hit, you should pay the price, which is pain. But never let the pitcher know it hurt. Never let them know. No, I didn't think about it.

JUAN MARICHAL: You know, all my years in baseball I used to pitch every four days, no matter how many innings I pitched the day before. I had 16-inning games and five days later I think that was the only time I had an extra day. I remember pitching in New York, another 14-inning game, but every four days I was on the mound, and I used to take care of my arm. Every time I pitched, I never could put ice on my elbow. I tried once and my arm was so sore the next day, it just ached. So I used to let hot water run over my shoulder for two or three days and I was ready the fourth day. So I don't know why so many pitchers today go five or six innings and can't go nine. I don't know, I used to do it, and I think everybody that prepared themselves good enough can go nine innings also.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Thank you, and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you. I said at the beginning that this has been a privilege for all of us, and it truly has. We thank all of you for coming, and we thank you for the great contributions you've made. I thank everybody for coming today and we'll see you all later.

End of FastScripts....

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