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July 12, 2004

Jackie Autry

Roger Clemens

Bill Giles

Jack McKeon

Mark Mulder

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Now we want to introduce the folks here who have a lot of memories, not only about this game, but in past games and certainly our first guest does, my memories of his dad and this young man who was always a little guy at the ballpark and look at all of the things he's done since, handled the first All-Star Game here, would you welcome the honorary president of the National League, Mr. Bill Giles. (Applause).

BILL GILES: Thank you. You know, somebody asked me about a month ago if I had been in baseball all my life, and I said, not yet. (Laughter.) And it certainly applies to Jack McKeon, amazingly, 14 months ago, he was sitting on his porch in Elan, North Carolina, and here he is today, managing the 2004 National League All-Star Team, sitting here is the manager of the 2003 Florida Marlins, he was Manager of the Year, Sportsman of the Year, he started in his baseball career 55 years ago. He was a Minor League catcher in the Pittsburgh organization, he's been a Minor League manager, coach, scout, vice president, advisor, general manager, and here he is with 88 Major League victories as a Major League manager. He's been a good friend of mine, we've had a lot of fun together, when I was running the Phillies in the 80s, a cigar here and there, maybe a drink here and there, but it was great talking baseball and trying to make a creative trade, my good friend, Trader Jack, Jack McKeon. (Applause) Jack?

JACK McKEON: Thanks, Bill. Well, it's certainly a thrill for me to be here, after all of the years I spent in baseball, you know, as many of you guys heard me say before, so many people want to make something of my age. Well, I'm so old I can remember Preparation A. (Laughter.) But it's a tribute to my players last year that I'm up here representing the National League. They did an outstanding job, I'm very proud of them and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be able to pencil in so many future Hall of Famers from this National League club. We're going to do the best we can to win this game, we've got an outstanding roster and we're going to give the fans their money's worth. Thank you. We'll do the lineup. Leading off playing shortstop, playing shortstop, Renteria from the Cardinals. First baseman, Pujols from the Cardinals. Everybody knows the third guy, Barry Bonds from the Giants. Scott Rolen, third base, from the Cardinals. Sammy Sosa, right fielder, Cubs. Mike Piazza, catcher, the Mets. Centerfielder, Berkman, from the Houston Astros. And second baseman, Kent from the Astros. And the starting pitcher and it's my privilege to select a guy that I think is going to be a future Hall of Famer, has done a tremendous job his entire career, an outstanding example for all of youngsters in baseball, little league, high school, college, Minor Leagues, a guy that has a tremendous work ethic, has been a proven success for many, many years and it's my privilege to introduce our starting pitcher, Mr. Clemens of the Houston Astros. (Applause).

ROGER CLEMENS: Thank you and it's definitely an honor. I appreciate Jack's kind words. I'm just looking forward to it. This day has finally come, and you know, I'm excited for the other players that are here and I'm excited for our city. You know, I had a pretty good time when the Super Bowl rolled around and seeing how they did it up here, and we're trying to do that and even a little more for all of our baseball fans and our city here in Houston. So I'm looking forward to it, and I'm excited, too. That's a pretty good lineup. There's a couple of changes with Griffey getting hurt and now Lance gets in there, so I'm excited for him. I'm excited for Mr. Beltran finally getting the opportunity to play because he deserves that. Thank you, and ready to go.

THE MODERATOR: That's your National League side. Thank you, Bill, Jack and Roger. And now, we'll go to the other side, and just a memory that I brought on Mr. Giles with, and for Jackie, as well. I had a great friends for many years that was in the Angel organization and we always had lunch together and he made sure that I went over to the radio station, went up and saw Mr. Autry in his office and the great memories that were there. So I'm sure she has some of those thoughts today as she prepares to meet with you. Introducing the American League honorary president, Jackie Autry is right here. Jackie?

JACKIE AUTRY: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. As you all know, last year the American League let the National League slip one past us and we did not bring home the world championship to the American League. As we also know, this one counts again for home-field advantage, so that's very important to us. I remember last year, Bill Giles went into a long dissertation about his father and going into the National League clubhouse and how he would try to get the National League players all revved up about how important this was. Well, I'm here to tell you, Bill, that I am not going to send you a crystal ball again this year, because that's our bet. And secondly, I'm going to tell you right now that the American League is going to win this contest this year because you've only won two in the last 16, kiddo.

BILL GILES: Thanks for reminding me.

JACKIE AUTRY: It's my pleasure, I've known the gentleman here for a number of years. He worked in the Angels organization for the Anaheim Angels as one of our broadcasters and he's been a dear friend of the Autry family, and in my opinion, probably the best manager in all of the American League, maybe with one minor exception, Joe. It's my pleasure to introduce to you the manager of the New York Yankees and the man that will take us to a winner in the American League, Joe Torre. (Applause).

JOE TORRE: I know I've been very fortunate, I've managed the All-Star Team a number of times but it never gets old. I'm honored to be here, because any time you're around the best players in the world, it's the only place to be. It's fun, it's interesting, the players have a good time when they come to these All-Star games, and in spite of what they look like as far as like they don't care when you tell them they made the All-Star Team; they are thrilled to death, and that's always reminds me of Roy Campanella saying you have to have a lot of little boy in you to play this game. So I'm thrilled to be here. I can't tell you how excited I am about the game tomorrow night and I will give you my lineup. Leading off from the Seattle Mariners will be Ichiro Suzuki. Batting second from the Detroit Tigers, my catcher, Ivan Rodriguez. Batting third playing right field from Anaheim, Vladimir Guerrero. Batting fourth from the Boston Red Sox playing left field, Manny Ramirez. Batting fifth playing third base from the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez. Batting sixth from the Yankees again, Jason Giambi playing first base. One more time from the Yankees, playing shortstop, Derek Jeter. A guy who used to playing with the Yankees and now he's with the Texas Rangers, Alfonso Soriano playing second base. And it is my pleasure to introduce my starting pitcher, one of brightest young left-handers who is already there but there's a lot more to come, from the Oakland Athletics, Mark Mulder. Mark. (Applause).

MARK MULDER: Thank you, Mr. Torre, for choosing me, but having to go and face a lineup like the National League is throwing out there, it's not that thrilling. (Laughter.) I guess we face an All-Star lineup facing the Yankees every so often. It will be fun. It's definitely an honor being chosen to start the game. I was fortunate to get into last year's game, and I think this year, being here and being able to start is going to be a lot of fun. I just want to do well and try not to embarrass myself, but thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jackie, Joe and Mark. Good to have you with us, as well. Joe, I'm wasn't going to tell the daschund story, but they wouldn't believe it. The first time we met we were on a caravan in 1966, he walked in my room, heard me on the phone, after looking at me rather askance, who are you talking to, he said, "Who are you talking to?" I said, "I'm talking to my dog, don't you?" So, that's the way we met a couple of years ago.

Q. Joe, I've got a question for you. How strange is it going to seem Tuesday evening to look across on the mound and see that big monster over there?

JOE TORRE: It's going to be strange but it's going to be very nostalgic for me. Roger, you know, we forged a special relationship. I still feel very close to him. However, it doesn't keep me from wanting to beat his brains out tomorrow night. He's a great competitor. I think it's a great example for youngsters, because Roger, in spite of his natural-born ability has never taken anything for granted and has worked very hard. I think it's a great theatre for him to be home and to be able to start, but it is going to be a little strange after the last five years or so, having him on my side.

Q. A few years ago, a certain general manager categorized you as being in the twilight of your career. I was just wondering if that comment still gives you reason to chuckle, I know it used to, and does it serve as motivation being able to do the things you're doing right now so many years after some people wrote you off?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, I mean, again, the person who made the comment really didn't take the time to get to know me or know my personality. So it wasn't that big of a deal. I feel blessed that things have happened and come my way since then. That's really all I can say. I mean, I just feel really blessed that I've had the opportunity to play in the neat cities I've played in, not only the one that is were my hometown, but to travel to different ones, and that includes this year. But I was well motivated long before I stepped to the professional ranks, so, again, I'm just real excited about the opportunity that I have for tomorrow night and for our city.

Q. When you came out of retirement, did you have any idea you could still be this good; that you had this much left in you that you could be not just productive, but still one of the premiere guys?

ROGER CLEMENS: I was happy with my decision last year when I tipped my hat to this man next to me. I felt really comfortable with it. Obviously, I wasn't happy with the outcome of how the World Series turned out. I was relieved when I left the mound in Florida. I actually went into Joe's office and reflected briefly, knowing that I still might have a chance to pitch in Game 6 or Game 7. And then once I got home, I was very comfortable with my decision, not knowing what was going to happen in the off-season. I'm glad I left that percentage point open now, but everything that's happened this year has just been strange, it's been a lot of hard work again. I think I said it best when I made my -- when I allowed the Hendrix brothers to talk to Drayton about coming home and playing. I said it best then, I said it's going to be my biggest balancing act ever because I made some promises to my two older boys and I made some promises to my teammates here. My days when I work, the days when I take the mound, hopefully some of the young guys are paying attention when I'm working, but just as important to me is the days that I'm with my teammates and I can cut up on the bench and talk baseball and say those things. So it's very important. But it has been, it's been my biggest balancing act ever.

Q. Joe, just switching gears a little bit, I wanted to ask about the roster that you came to. I know that Cleveland has five players on the roster, and given the number of better teams on that roster, it seems like that's a high number. I don't mean any disrespect to Cleveland but what was the thought process in getting five Cleveland Indians on the roster?

JOE TORRE: I'm happy to say from the last time I was managing an All-Star Team, the process has changed in the players vote here the last couple of years. The only decisions I had to make, there were five teams that needed representation, and I filled out those five teams with players. And then the only other decision, I had a chance to add one player and one pitcher and I added Gordon, Tom Gordon from my club and I added Carlos Guillen from Detroit. Those are the only two decisions I made. Travis Hafner I put on the five-man group at the end where the fans had the vote, but I had nothing to do with the Cleveland players. Unfortunately, one thing I had to do was tell my catcher, Jorge Posada who has been a regular All-Star, tell him he wasn't making the club because of Victor Martinez.

Q. For Jack, I was wondering, how much thought did you give to hitting Barry lead off and also to Beltran in centerfield?

JACK McKEON: Yeah, we talked about it, Joe and I talked about that situation when we had the press conference a couple of days ago, a conference call, really. It ran through my mind, since he's not going to walk him the first time up, let him hit with a couple of men on maybe. Beltran, well, we had Berkman on the roster, and Lance has done an excellent job. I've seen him play centerfield. He was an outfielder in the voting and I thought he was very deserving to get the opportunity to start the game in Ken Griffey Junior's place.

Q. Mark, what is your thoughts on facing the National League lineup?

MARK MULDER: Well, I mean, look at it. You know, they are all outstanding players. I'm definitely not going to try to walk Bonds, let's put it that way. Hopefully he'll put it in play and I'll throw some strikes to him. That's about it.

Q. Roger, obviously you've been in some special circumstances. For you to take the ball tomorrow night, the sort of long odds from walking off the field in Florida to coming here, at what point did it become a reality with your love of the city and state and joining the Astros and that you would be an All-Star Game starter in Houston, at what point did that register with you that that was a possibility?

ROGER CLEMENS: You know, I came out of the game strong being the only circumstance. I knew I was going to be involved. They have got Nolan Ryan and myself pretty involved in this event since I came back home. I think it would have happened regardless of a lot of things which I'm trying to enjoy a lot. I had a good time at the clinic yesterday seeing a bunch of kids. There's more than just playing this game tomorrow night for me. There's a lot going on here in my home state. You know, it's pretty exciting to see not only my family but my extended family and people that work for me in my foundation really geared up and giddy about this whole event. I think the first half has gone fairly fast but they have kept me busy. I was teasing Drayton, the personal service contract, I hope it counts for two years of the six or seven or whatever it is, I feel like I'm doing a little bit of both. Just looking forward to it. We're going to make the most of it, and you know, again, once I walk off the mound tomorrow, once I come off the field tomorrow, my day is certainly not done. There are still a lot of other events and things that I need to participate in and shake some hands and run around town doing a few things. So it's going to be a good time.

Q. Roger, could you relive some of your memories of the '86 game when you started here in town, just thoughts about being here, starting in the Red Sox uniform and what you expect tomorrow; will they meet or beat those memories of being here the first time?

ROGER CLEMENS: I think you guys see the young players, somebody like Mark down there, your first couple of All-Star games, my first one here in the Astrodome went by so fast. When I see the clips, obviously I'm a lot younger, and it just went by so fast, those three innings. You're wide-eyed, I'm still wide-eyed in the clubhouse when you see all of the great players that you are along side. You have the routine down, the signing, seeing everybody, going through the routine, there's a little more normalcy to do. You know, you're able to really kick back and enjoy it and observe what's going on. Your first one or two that you participate in, like I said, it happens extremely fast.

Q. I know you don't much like talking about pitching to Mike Piazza, but if I could ask you to step outside yourself as a baseball player and a fan, but do you recognize it's a riveting baseball story for the All-Star Game?

ROGER CLEMENS: No, and I don't have to pitch to him; pitch at him. I'm pitching with him now, we are on the same team, so pretty much it's not a story of what's going on here. I think the story's are like Beltran and Lance getting an opportunity to start in his hometown. As far as Mike and I are concerned, I've said many times, I'm looking forward to it. I'm glad I get to throw it to him and I don't have to face him because I know what type of hitter he is, and if you make a mistake, if you leave a ball out over especially in this ballpark which I witnessed early in the year, you're not going to get it back. It's pretty simple.

Q. I'm asking this for someone whose English is not quite so good. This is to Jack McKeon. The gentleman would like to know about the thinking process in selecting Beltran to replace Griffey; was it because of he was originally being voted in on the American League before the trade or is there another reason behind that?

JACK McKEON: Well, we replaced Griffey with Beltran because, first of all, he's got All-Star numbers. We were kind of caught in a trap, here is a guy that was selected by the players in the American League and all of the sudden a few days later got traded and he had great numbers in the American League. When it all came down to weighing a number of factors we thought he was a viable choice and deserving to be in the All-Star Game.

Q. Roger, how has the game changed since you first came up in the '80s and is it a lot easier to hit home runs now than it used to be 15 years ago?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I mean, I think there's a lot that's changed, and you have to make the adjustments to go along with it, to make sure you can head down the path, how the game changes. I think the strike zones always have changed and altered. They tweak with it and now they have the new machines and things like that. I think the newer ballparks are conducive for hitting, and you know, I think everybody, I think these days, everybody works out year round. The last past ten years, guys take it more serious. There's less down time, a lot of the guys don't work like some of the guys up here who are managers, they had other things to do when baseball ended when the season was over. I think guys are just bigger and stronger for that reason. It's just a very fast-paced game. It looks nice from the stands and the booth. To me as I get older, it just seems to get faster, the balls whip by me a little faster, I think.

Q. After Pudge Rodriguez played such a major role in winning the world championship, what's it going to be like going against him in the Midsummer Classic tomorrow?

JACK McKEON: How is it going to feel facing him? I saw Pudge last night, and Pudge did such a tremendous job for us, was really a spark for the ballclub and did a tremendous job handling the young pitchers. And it's always tough to lose a future Hall of Famer, but he's not with us anymore and we wish him the best of luck and glad to see that he's doing so well over in the American League. But it's going to be odd having to face him tomorrow night, we're just going to -- Randy Johnson and I will have to get together; I think I know how to pitch to him. (Laughter.)

Q. Can you expand on having so many Astros involved in this weekend, especially with the way you guys are playing recently, and also talking about retirement and coming out of it; is this the midpoint of the career because you're playing so well?

ROGER CLEMENS: As far as the guys on our team that are deserving to be on there, like you said, I think a lot of the players had that vote. I'm excited for those guys. I hope they are enjoying it as much as I'm going to try and enjoy it and have been enjoying it leading up to this point. As far as the season goes, we are not playing well. That's kind of your worst nightmare when you make these decisions and regardless if I'm playing well or not I want to see smiles on the guys next to me. I've had success at this level in many years of it. You know, you can win 15, 20 games, but if you don't have a couple of guys coming along with you, you get the handshake and a pat on the back and you go home and watch the playoffs. There are some older players on this team that have not experienced that and that's all you can hope for. So there's still hope. I've seen things change in second halves, how seasons have come and gone. But we see now, you can make a run, and that's what we are looking to do. So we just need to keep our confidence up again. Three or four of us senior players there have 10 -, 12-plus years. A few of those guys have never experienced post-season play and that's what we hope to do.

Q. There's been a lot of focus going into the game on the 500 home run hitters but there's some Hall of Fame pitchers on your roster; is pitching getting overlooked in this era now and are they not going to appreciate how great the pitching staff is until five or ten years later?

ROGER CLEMENS: I don't know about that. I think a lot of guys are getting a lot of recognition. When you have an outfielder, was to be the outfielder that we were going to hold out there in the National League until Junior went down, it was going to be pretty special. I would even have stopped to step off the mound and look out there, it's a pretty special situation. It still will be. You have great players and there's tremendous hitters, but, you know, again, the guys that are good, like that guy down there on the left and being left-handed is even more special. It's hard to find guys like Mark and guys that really know how to pitch and know how to power pitch when they need to and how they can get out of jams when they have to. You know, again, I tell these guys, if they take care of themselves, they can pitch for a long time. Same thing I talked about with Andy Pettitte for so many years; that he has the work ethic, it might not make him throw harder or translate into wins on the field but if he has a program that he wants to pitch until he's 40-plus, he can do that if he has the wherewithal and the mindset to do so. And it's fun for me. I enjoy kicking back and watching these guys when you talk about Maddux, Randy Johnson and guys like that, they are true pros and they know how to get it done. There's a lot of determination within.

Q. You have not had a lot of run support your last few games, your record may not be as good as it could have been going into the All-Star Break; were you surprised that you were still selected as a starting pitcher because your record could have been better than it really is right now?

ROGER CLEMENS: No doubt. Schmidty, he could very well be the starter. Any time you get named the starter, it's an honor, and I'm sure that not only myself and Schmidty, maybe one or two others that could have taken this honor. It has nothing to do with numbers. I've been around long enough to know that you're going to go out there and pitch and not get support, that doesn't have anything to do with it. You just want to go out and perform well and give your team a chance to win. It's the same old cliches you hear, but it's true. You know how you're playing and how the guys are swinging the bat; it's no secret. You know when you wake up in the morning to take the mound, you know you have to be stingy and you can't afford to let too many balls leave the ballpark. That's the way it's been and that's how it goes. It's definitely an honor, I'm glad Jack gave me this honor.

Q. For Joe and Roger, can you talk about the opportunity for baseball to gather the current and former 500 home run hitters in one place and how that translates to the current generation of fans and players, maybe only seeing some of these guys on black and white newsreels?

JOE TORRE: To me, I've been asked questions recently, does 500 home runs still have the same impact that it did years ago. And any time you can hit 500 home runs, I don't care what generation you play in, it's a special lofty place to live. I think it's very special. I know baseball is all about statistics. Of course, a lot of them are negative statistics, but the 500 home runs, the 300 wins, things like that, are something to really hold onto, and I think the fans are really going to take a look at bridging the gap here and not necessarily comparing players because I think it's tough to compare players when they play in different times. But it's going to be very special. I know I'm going to look forward to it myself.

Q. Joe, do you like the new format of awarding home field for the World Series to the winning team in the All-Star Game, and how will that change the way you manage this game, as opposed to your other All-Star experiences?

JOE TORRE: Well, I thought I favored it until we had the home-field advantage last year and Jack kicked my ass before we had a chance to go back home. You always want the home-field advantage. And again, you go back, and there's a certain pressure that goes with having home-field advantage because you play the first two games at home, you need to win, you know, probably two games, because otherwise the other team can win on their home turf. I think home-field advantage is good when you get to that 6th and 7th game, but getting there is not easy. As far as managing differently, you know, I'd like to believe every time you put on a uniform, you want to win. And I think this is an exhibition, not that it's not important to win, but I think every single player that's here deserves to be here and they should play and they get a chance to be seen by the fans. So I don't think it's going to change how I manage. It's a little different here in the National League, as opposed the American League, because you have to keep mindful of the pitcher hitting and double-switching and things like that, but I'm going to try to get as many players in as possible. I was asked about walking Barry Bonds and I don't intend to walk Barry Bonds because I don't think Jack's going to leave him in until the eighth or ninth inning, would be the only time that strategy would come into play. But I think these fans paid to see a great ballgame tomorrow night and hopefully we can deliver that.

THE MODERATOR: Jack had one note to add to that.

JACK McKEON: He's going to play nine, Joe, so don't worry about it.

JOE TORRE: Then I might be tempted to walk him in the ninth inning with first base open.

Q. I wanted both managers to comment on what you think about attaching the outcome of the All-Star Game to home-field advantage, and how did it apply last year in your specific cases?

JOE TORRE: Well, to me, I think to add significance to the All-Star, you know what Bud Selig wants to do, he wants the fans to come out and watch a meaningful game. But as far as having something like that determine home-field advantage, you know, I'm not crazy about it. But again, I don't think it's going to change how I play the game, so I don't really pay attention to it. What the outcome is, the outcome is. To me, I still think the All-Star Game is an exhibition game and I don't think that's a negative. I think the All-Star Game is what it is. It's All-Stars, and I think all of the stars should get a chance to play, all of the stars should get a chance to take these three days, even though they are physically busy, to take a little rest because it's a 162-game schedule; it's very tough, it's grueling. These three days, yes, you have players here who are going to be busy for a couple of days, but I still think the mental part of playing baseball is the thing that wears you out more than the physical part. To me, the All-Star Game is a great exhibition. As far as awarding the significance of home-field advantage, so be it, but it's not going to change the way I look at it or the way I manage it.

THE MODERATOR: Last word, last ball, you have it today.

JACK McKEON: Ditto to Joe's comments.

THE MODERATOR: That's how you turn a team around, you talk like that. (Laughter.) Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming.

End of FastScripts...

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