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October 22, 2003

Hank Aaron

Albert Pujols

Alex Rodriguez

Allan H. "Bud" Selig


THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome everyone to the press conference for the 2003 Hank Aaron Award presented by Century 21. Before we begin, I'd like to introduce everyone. From your left to right is John Greenleaf, who is Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Century 21 Real Estate Corporation. The man to follow needs no introduction, the award is named after him, it's Hank Aaron. Next to him is Albert Pujols from the St. Louis Cardinals. Next to him is Commissioner Bud Selig. On the phone with us right here, who couldn't be with us in person due to a prior engagement is Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers. This is the first year Century 21 has sponsored the Hank Aaron Award. To start off the press conference, a few words on the award and their partnership with Major League Baseball is Mr. Greenleaf.

MR. GREENLEAF: Thank you very much. The more than 80,000 real estate professionals of the Century 21 system, it is leader in residential real estate are proud to celebrate our fifth year as sponsors of Major League Baseball and the Century 21 Home Run Derby. This year, for the first time, we are proud to be the presenting sponsors of the Hank Aaron Award given each year to the top two offensive players in Major League Baseball. It's now my honor to introduce Mr. Hank Aaron.

HANK AARON: Thank you very much. First, let me thank Century 21 for giving this award. I'd like to thank Albert Pujols, I want to thank the Commissioner of baseball and also want to thank Alex Rodriguez. This is the second or third year Alex has won it. I want to congratulate all of these players. Second year for Alex. This is his first year, but I just want to congratulate him. Most of all, I want to congratulate Century 21 for making this award possible. As you know, we think - at least I do - I think of this award as being what we call "The Year of a Complete Ball Player," the player that has done the most not only for his team, but has done most to help his team win baseball games, not only for home runs, runs-batted-in and batting average, but also in the clubhouse. I want to congratulate Albert Pujols and also Alex Rodriguez for this award.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Hank. We'll go to Commissioner Selig who will talk about the creation of the award and will also take us through some of the details on the two men who have won the Hank Aaron Award presented by Century 21. Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Thank you very much. I, too, want to thank Century 21. This is a great award. It was created in 1999, the Hank Aaron Award, to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank breaking Babe Ruth's all-time record. If I can be permitted, a personal comment, Hank and I have been friends now for 46 or 47 years. I had the privilege of seeing him play his first game in the Major Leagues and his last game. It was an honor to name the award after him because, in my judgment, and somewhat partial because I saw him play so often, he was the greatest player, at least I felt, of our generation. More importantly, Hank, I don't want your head to get too big by this, he's one of the nicest human beings that I've ever known. So this award, I think, personifies a lot of things. I say that to both Alex and Albert. It stands for not only his momentous feats on the field but the kind of person and human being he's been off the field. Obviously, the award is presented by Century 21, the official real estate organization of Major League Baseball. It recognizes the best overall hitter in each league. The winners this year of the 2000 Hank Aaron Award are the aforementioned St. Louis Cardinals great young outfielder Albert Pujols and Texas Rangers great shortstop Alex Rodriguez. Albert is the only player in history to bat .300 or better with at least 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 runs-batted-in in his first three Major League seasons. He led all Major League players in batting average this year, .359, and also enjoyed the longest hitting streak of the 2003 season. Albert led the National League in hits, 212; multi-hit game, 63; ranked amongst the Top 10 in home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, average with runners in scoring position, RBI ratio, home run ratio. Really remarkable season. I congratulate you. Now my friend Alex Rodriguez. Hello, Alex?


COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Alex Rodriguez is the third player to hit 40 or more home runs in at least six straight seasons joining Babe Ruth and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. He led the American League in home runs, 47; runs scored, 124; slugging percentage, .600; home run ratio, 12.1 at-bats, one home run per 12.1 at-bats; was among the American League leaders in RBI, total bases, extra base hits, RBI ratio, on-base percentage and walks. So to both of you for this great award, you've had extraordinary seasons. We thank you for both your on-the-field activities as well as off the field. I'm sure Hank feels as I do, proud to have both of you win this award. Congratulations, both of you (applause).

THE MODERATOR: Like we said before, Alex couldn't be with us in person, unfortunately. He has joined us via speaker phone. I know he wanted to make a statement accepting the award presented by Century 21.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: First of all, I'd like to say sorry for not being there with you all today. I made a commitment a few months ago. It would be fun to be there. I'm also very proud of the city of South Florida for doing such a great job with the World Series, hosting it, along with New York. I want to thank Century 21 for making all of this possible. Mr. Bud Selig. I guess any time you get mentioned with Mr. Hank Aaron, it's the ultimate compliment, not only as a hitter, but obviously, the great ball player that he was, and very much overlooked the other side of hitting the baseball. Also, my congratulations to Albert Pujols, who puts on a clinic every year. It gets better and better.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Alex. Now a few statements from Albert Pujols, the winner for the National League from the St. Louis Cardinals. Albert?

ALBERT PUJOLS: Thank you very much. It's an honor to be here tonight. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be here. I just want to say thank you to Century 21 for making this award possible. It's amazing, I mean, what they done. Since 1999, this award be given to the guys, the top offense category, around the league. I want to thank Hank Aaron for the intensity he has for this game and this award; I always admire him, look for him. It's one of this great award that I never gonna forget. Like Alex just said, Hank Aaron, you're talking about all-time leader. I wish in my career I can get at least half of the home runs he hit (laughter). Just amazing, he open the door for a lot of young players, like including myself. I'm pretty sure a lot of players that are in the league look forward to this award. I just want to thank my teammates. I want to thank the broadcaster, the fans that voted in. Like I say, my teammates is big part. Any award that I been getting the last three years, I would love to share with my teammates. I mean, I wish we would be playing in the World Series. I think it would be great. But I think my teammates are gonna be happy, because they made this to happen, you know? They help me out on the field and off the field, and I think without them, I wouldn't get this award or any other award that I been getting this year and the last three years. So I just want to thank you guys for being here and thank you for voting me.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I'd like to invite photographers to come take photographs. I guess we'll take questions. Any questions for anyone on the dais? Let's keep questions specific to the Hank Aaron Award.

Q. Now that you've won the Sporting News Player-of-the-Year Award Monday and this award today, how do you think that translates into a possible Most Valuable Player Award?

ALBERT PUJOLS: You guys put me in tough... Hey, you know, I don't really want to answer that question. I don't want to get in trouble or anything. But, hey, whatever happens, happens. I still young in this career. Hopefully, I maybe get an opportunity in the future. If I want MVP? Of course I want it. It's great. I want to get that award. But there's a lot of great players that had a great year. You look Gary Sheffield, nobody talks about him, but that guy got a great year. You talk about Barry Bonds, what he has done for his team. Myself, you know. And other players. So we are gonna see in the next couple of weeks what's gonna happen. Like I say, it's something that is real tough to answer, a tough question. I don't really know. The writers are voting in. I'm pretty sure the votes are already coming in and probably after the World Series. But like I say, if it doesn't happen, I'd be great, it doesn't change the way I approach the game and the way I respect this game. That isn't gonna change anything in the future.

End of FastScripts...

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