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October 26, 2005

Hank Aaron

John Greenleaf

Andruw Jones

David Ortiz

Harold Reynolds

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

HOUSTON, TEXAS: Game Four - Hank Aaron Award

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Welcome everybody to the Hank Aaron Award ceremony. And let me introduce who is up here at the panel real quick. To the far left, the gentleman on the left, John Greenleaf, senior vice-president of marketing for Century 21. Next to him, Mr. David - Papi - Ortiz, Boston Red Sox. Next to him, Hall of Famer, himself, who the award is named after, Mr. Hank Aaron. Next to him, Andruw Jones, centerfielder of the Atlanta Braves. And needs no further mention or introduction, I should say, Mr. Bud Selig, Commissioner of Baseball. We're going to open up our remarks with the Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Thank you, Harold. The Hank Aaron Award was created in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank breaking Babe Ruth's all time career home run record. The Hank Aaron Award presented by Century 21 recognizes the best all-around hitter in each league. I want to thank Century 21 for its sponsorship of this award and for its long-standing relationship with Major League Baseball. I am honored to present this award each year. Hank and I have been friends for nearly 50 years, a long time, Hank. And in my opinion he was the greatest hitter of our generation. Today it's my pleasure to announce the winners of the 2005 Hank Aaron Award presented by Century 21. Atlanta Braves outfielder, Andruw Jones and David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox. Both had outstanding seasons, as you know. Andruw led the Major Leagues with 51 homes runs, and led the Atlanta Braves to their 14th consecutive division title. He led the National League in RBI's with 128, became only the 12th player in Major League history to reach the 300 home run plateau before his 30th birthday. Also Andruw broke the franchise's single season home run record previously shared by Hank and Eddie Matthews. In addition to his 47 home runs which ranked third in the major leagues and second in the American League, David led all hitters with 148 RBIs. He had 43 home runs as a designated-hitter, which is the most ever by a DH in a season. David also had 21 game-winning RBIs and he hit .352 with runners in scoring position. On behalf of everybody in Major League Baseball I congratulate both of you for your magnificent 2005 season. Congratulations.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Well, first before we hear from the winners, we need to hear from the man who the award is named after, Mr. Hank Aaron, one of the greatest hitters ever, RBIs, home runs, you name it, he's on the top of almost every list. And this is the greatest offensive award any player can receive and it's named after him for the right reason. Mr. Hank Aaron, Hall of Famer.

HANK AARON: Thank you very much, Harold. First let me thank the Commissioner. I also want to thank Century 21. I want to congratulate these two wonderful players, here, that is on the platform with me this evening. This award, as the Commissioner said, was bestowed upon me many years ago, and I want to thank the Commissioner for doing it in perpetuity. The one thing I want to say about this award is that it goes further than just a ballplayer hitting and batting in runs. You look at this award and you say, "what does it exemplify?" It exemplifies the fact that each one of these players meant so much to his team, not only hitting the home runs or batting in the runs, but simply manufacturing wins for their respective teams. And I, too, want to congratulate each and every one of them. I had a chance, of course, to watch Andruw for many years, and I know what a wonderful year he had last year. In fact, I was just talking to him just a moment ago and I was applauding him on his consistency in what he did as a ballplayer last year. And he took it upon himself last year to carry the Atlanta Braves to their 14th championship. When we had some of our star players out for a long period of time, Andruw took it upon himself, in fact he told a lot of the young players, he said, get on my shoulder and ride me for a moment and I'll carry you home. And he did that. And in watching him play I marvel at his consistency. The other player I had a chance to watch was David. And I've been watching him for many years, and David has been the type of player that Boston has always -- was marveled at. But the fact I liked David is the fact that he came through in so many clutch moments. We all knew the year they dethroned the New York Yankees, what he did in that short series. And I want to congratulate him for his consistency, also. And I also want to thank the Commissioner, of course, for giving me and naming this award as I mentioned before. I and I want to congratulate him for doing that. But also I want to thank Century 21. Thank you so very much for naming this award after me. Again, thank all of you for coming, and I want to wish each and every one of these players the very best.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Let's hear from their sponsor, Mr. John Greenleaf.

JOHN GREENLEAF: Century 21 is thrilled to be here for the third year as sponsors of the Hank Aaron Award. We've had a long lasting relationship with Major League Baseball as the Commissioner mentioned. This is our seventh year as a baseball sponsor. We're thrilled to have been able to work with Major League Baseball and expand our relationship with working with Mr. Aaron for sponsoring this award. Real estate and buying a home is the American dream and baseball -- that's one of the reasons we've maintained this relationship and worked so hard to make it as successful as it's been. One thing I'd like you to keep in mind is the voting for this award was changed two years ago, so now it's entirely done by fans. We had more than a half million voters vote for these players. Not only are they recognized by the teams they compete on and by Major League Baseball but I think most importantly by all the fans who love and follow Major League Baseball and these players and their teams. So for us again it's a thrill, we're proud to be here with Mr. Aaron, with the wonderful winners of this year's award and to continue our relationship with Major League Baseball, thank you.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I've got to know Andruw Jones for a long time. He speaks five languages, so Andruw speak to us in English today. We're going to hear from Mr. Andruw Jones.

ANDRUW JONES: I want to thank Century 21 and Major League Baseball for selecting me for the Hank Aaron Award and the fans that vote for me, but thanks for voting me for the Hank Aaron Award and my teammates that have been there with me and helping me and all the stuff. So I'll say thank you for the award, Major League Baseball.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I'd like to congratulate Mr. David Ortiz from the Boston Red Sox. He's gotten a cult following. One of the great personalities in baseball. Congratulations on a tremendous season. David, it's all yours.

DAVID ORTIZ: I just want to be like my main man, Andruw, over there. Thanks Major League Baseball and Mr. Aaron and Mr. Selig over there. And I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to win this award. The fans have been so great to me and that's one of the things that pushed me every day to become a better player. All the players around the League I think this year was really good for baseball. I think it was great. And I think people, with all the stuff we're going through, I think they're going to realize we still have players that have a lot of love and a lot of feeling for the game. Century 21, I want to congratulate you guys, because you guys are doing a great job not only for the game, but people out there that really need help from you guys. And nothing else, thank you.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: We'll open it up for a few questions. We have a few people with microphones. If you can wait until you have a microphone to ask a question.

Q. Andruw, is the award more special for you, do you think, because of the friendship you have with Hank over the years, letting him be there and seeing you develop over the years. Does it mean more than it would from a guy from another team?

ANDRUW JONES: Yes. Winning an award, it's tough. There's a lot of players out there that have great years, and especially the award being named after Hank Aaron. It's special. Every time you go on the field you're trying to help your team. And like Hank Aaron say, it's all about consistency and helping the team get to the point that your team wanted to be in. For me to be consistent this year, and that's what I worked for this last off season, to be consistent and everything pay off. And for the fans to see what I did and for them to vote for me to win this award is more special.

Q. David, Hank talked about the award recognizing your ability to help the team win. And certainly in your situation everybody in the world knows what a tough hitter you are. How much pride do you take out of the fact you were so good from the 7th inning on and had so many game-winning hits, when everybody recognized what a dangerous hitter you were?

DAVID ORTIZ: Well, seems like people, they know that this game -- it might look easy on TV, but there's some guys out there that they might make the game look easy, but it's not an easy game to play. And pretty much when you sit down and watch a baseball game it might be like, okay, we need a hit. We need a guy to make a pitch in this situation. And I guess the toughest part about the game is hitting. When you can come through in some kind of situations, people really appreciate it. It takes a lot of concentration and a lot of hard work to get to that level. I guess it's been working the right way for me, and I'm going to want to keep it that way.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: We're going to conclude this with the Commissioner's remarks.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Just in closing, when we named this award after Hank, and obviously as I said there's a long-standing friendship, but it was not only that his career statistics were so magnificent, he broke Babe Ruth's record, that's the obvious part of it. But I have to say today, and these two gentlemen up here, Andruw Jones and David Ortiz, certainly fit the billing, for all the years I've watched him, he's been a magnificent human being off the field. And that's the great part of this honor. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts...

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