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October 25, 2005

Roberto Clemente

Harold Reynolds

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

John Smoltz

HOUSTON, TEXAS: Game Three - Roberto Clemente Award

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Well, today is a special day for Major League Baseball. We get to honor the Roberto Clemente Award. As many of you know or may not know, since 1971 Major League Baseball has presented the Roberto Clemente Award to the players that best exemplifies baseball on and off the field, with their accomplishments as a performer but also as a humanitarian. It is the greatest achievement you can receive as a baseball player, you can only win it one time in your career. I was fortunate enough to be a winner of that. And of all the things I've been able to accomplish in life it stands right up there at the top. And I'm real proud of today's winner, no surprise when you look at him, John Smoltz has been around baseball a long time, pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. On his left is Roberto Clemente, Jr., and on his left, Commissioner Bud Selig.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Thank you, Harold, and good evening. The Roberto Clemente Award is presented annually to the baseball player who combines outstanding skills on the baseball field with dedicated and effective work in the community. The award is named after Roberto Clemente because of his passion for the game and his commitment for making a difference in the lives of those in need. His magnificent legacy transcends time and continues to have an impact to this day. This year's winner, I'm pleased to announce, is John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves. Congratulations, John. Not only is John in the midst of an outstanding baseball career, he and his wife, Dyan, have contributed countless hours, funds and resources to numerous charitable initiatives throughout the Atlanta community. John and Dyan's work with their foundation, the King's Ridge Christian School and the Atlanta Community Food Bank has been exemplary. John was also instrumental in the Atlanta Braves' efforts to help the hurricane victims and he led the collection effort amongst his teammates. On behalf of Major League Baseball, John, I thank you and your wife Dyan for your good deeds. I would also like to thank the Clemente family, Vera, Luis and Roberto, Jr., for their continued support of Major League Baseball. It is an honor to do this every day. Congratulations, John.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Congratulations, John. Our next guest will be Roberto Clemente, Jr. December 31st, 1972 is when his father passed away, heading to Nicaragua to take food on a missions trip. His plane crashed on that trip. This last a special year for Roberto, he got to complete the trip.

ROBERTO CLEMENTE, JR.: Thank you, Harold. First of all, I need to actually extend the congratulations from my mother. She wanted to be here. She could not make it this year, and congratulations to you, John, and your wife, Dyan. Commissioner Selig, mom also sends her thanks from Puerto Rico. On behalf of the Clemente family, John and Dyan, it is a great honor for us for you two to be the recipient of this year's award because of your efforts as a human being. It's not about being a great player, because everyone knows that already, but this honor is for you as a family, as a person, a special person. And for us it's a great honor to be very happy that you are the recipient of this award, the Roberto Clemente Award. And we thank John Hancock for sponsoring this award, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being that special person. Thank you.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Let's hear from John Smoltz, himself.

JOHN SMOLTZ: Thank you, Harold. Truly a little bit of irony, here, coming back to this stadium. I'd seen enough in 18 innings, but this is the greatest trip of my life, honestly, to be able to know that there's so many people to thank, obviously the Braves organization for recognizing me and giving me the opportunity for 18 years to play a great game. They've been tremendous, Brad Hainje is here, public relations, and they've worked very hard. I can't thank the Roberto Clemente family enough. Obviously icon is something that in baseball, as players, you all know who Roberto Clemente is and what he did and how he did it. But truly I've gotten a chance to achieve some incredible successes. The Cy Young award, a World Series Championship, and I'm not saying this because you're here or I'm not saying this because the commissioner is here, this truly is the greatest award, I agree with you, Harold, that a player can achieve and accomplish. And I mean that, it goes above those awards because it has the opportunity to affect so many people. This is who I am, this is how I was raised by my dad. My wife has given me the amount of time and sacrifice with our four children, and I truly can say when I received this news that it was the greatest time in my 18-year career so far. I thank you for modeling what your dad had incredibly endowed in baseball. And like you said, everyone knew how great a baseball player he was. But everybody gets to see with each recipient. I feel like of the 700 and some baseball players, to be the one chosen to represent that, I will do, in the times that I feel like it gets very difficult, this will remind me what an incredible award it is. And I thank everybody who had a part in it, Commissioner, thank you for baseball, and John Hancock, as you said, for representing us. I hope to carry on the legacy in the honor of your father. I thank you very, very much.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Thank you, John. Today is a special day for Major League Baseball with Habitat for Humanity. The commissioner has comments on that. And also we'll conclude this program.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I do, and this has been a wonderful day, at least with Habitat for Humanity, forget their roof controversy, which I suspect will come up shortly (laughter), but I'm ready. Bill, I'm ready. We have a surprise tonight. In 1991 the Roberto Clemente Award honorary was Harold Reynolds of the Seattle Mariners. When Harold won the award, recipients did not receive a trophy as nice as John's. It is a point that Harold seems to bring up at every Roberto Clemente Award presentation. And Harold, I'll add parenthetically, I've heard guys complain and whine in my lifetime, but you have really outdone it, I have to say (laugher). Therefore, in order to honor Harold for his selection as the 1991 Roberto Clemente Award recipient, thank him for his annual participation at the Roberto Clemente Awards, and most importantly to avoid having to ever listen to him mention it again, we want to present to you a lifetime Roberto Clemente Award (applause). That's why I said when I came in tonight, for the last time, Harold. Now you know.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I got a little baseball about that big (indicating). Unbelievable, thank you. I'm honored. But tonight is about John Smoltz. So we'll go back to this. Thank you. Also there may be questions.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Questions about the award or John. It's a great night for a man that richly deserves it, he and his wife and family.

Q. Does this in any way take the sting out of the way the season ended for you? You talk more than the other guys, even, about what a great season it was. But does it cap it as great as it would to be here as a player receiving this award?

JOHN SMOLTZ: It really does. Dave, you followed me for some time now, and you know how competitive I am, the desire I have to be in the World Series. And this is going to be the first World Series game I ever attended that I didn't play in. This truly is a dual honor for me. My whole career it's never been about trying to achieve something like this; it's who I am. And it's what I believe the Atlanta Braves and baseball players in general represent. Negative sometimes sells and sometimes gets attention. And I can honestly say that this is a tribute to my teammates and myself and the Braves organization for giving me a chance to shine and make a difference. I get blessed to be with some great charity organizations, and because of that name on my back and the name on the front of my chest, I hope to represent it with what I consider the living guy that I played with, Dale Murphy is the guy that I think best exemplifies what baseball is about on and off the field, and I got a chance to play with him. Seeing everything about Roberto Clemente and hearing just sends chills to know that I'm going to have this in my house and have it a lot higher than the Cy Young, I can tell you right now.

Q. I was in the airport the day that Roberto died. He was on a plane to go to Nicaragua, but the plane from Miami landed in the airport in San Juan, and they crashed. I was there and Roberto Clemente asked me -- the dream is the dream. I don't see the Roberto Clemente City growing. Always it stay in the same -- I want to know what they're going to do with -- Roberto, Junior, to try to pick up and trying to grow up the Roberto Clemente City. A lot of the people would like to see the city growing, and especially for the kids.

ROBERTO CLEMENTE, JR.: First of all, dad had a dream, and the dream was to have a city -- not a city, actually. In his dream he wanted five acres of land to be able to teach kids how to play the game of baseball. And after the accident occurred the government of Puerto Rico gave actually 600 acres of land to Clemente for his dream, which became the Roberto Clemente Sports City. When the land was donated by the government my mother and the board of directors thought it was a very ambitious project. When they came back to the government and said this is too ambitious, take half of the land. Well, the land -- the government took half the land back; unfortunately they took the good land and left wetlands for the Roberto Clemente Sports City. So ever since it's been an uphill battle to be able to build on these wetlands, it's a swamp. And you can actually go to Puerto Rico and go to the Sports City. It's unbelievable what's gone on. Where you have around a hundred thousand cities go to the Sports City every year. And it's a great honor for us to be able to know and let you know that we have not only ballplayers to have gone through there, but people that are in society that are contributing, our people of Puerto Rico from policemen to doctors, lawyers, all over the place. And it's amazing that we have been able to have that to contribute to the people, not only from Puerto Rico but also from the United States.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Before we close, I'm going to turn it back to the Commissioner for a final word.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I want to say when I reviewed the voting and the 30 people who won for their individual clubs, I mean really makes you proud to be the commissioner. The qualifications of the other 29 were just remarkable, but John, I have to say to you, it is a great honor because yours really stood out and it stood out after looking at a marvelous, marvelous group. Sincere congratulations on a life well done (applause).

End of FastScripts...

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