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October 22, 2002

Vera Clemente

Harold Reynolds

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

Jim Thome

SAN FRANCISO, CALIFORNIA: Game Three - Roberto Clemente Award

HAROLD REYNOLDS: We're going to try to get started here so we can move on, The Commissioner has a busy schedule and we do have a World Series baseball game to play. I'm Harold Reynolds and I want to thank you for showing up, first of all. Today we get to present one of my favorite awards in all of baseball, the Roberto Clemente Award. It is an award that is presented to the player who most exemplifies, represents baseball in the proper way, on and off the field and in community involvement. We get to do that today. Some of the people at the head table today, obviously, you recognize Commissioner Bud Selig. To his left is Vera Clemente, the wife of Roberto Clemente. To the right of The Commissioner is Carol Fulp, vice president of community relations for John Hancock Financial, who is the sponsor for the Roberto Clemente Award. The man in the middle, we will introduce here in a minute, as we move through this whole thing. This is the 30th anniversary of the Roberto Clemente award. Since 1970, Major League Baseball has annually presented an award to a player who exemplifies baseball on and off the field, like I talked about before. In 1973, following the tragic death of Roberto Clemente, the award was changed to honor him. As you may not know the story, he was going to do community work and his plane crashed, taking food to help people. Really, it speaks a lot for the type of person and the heart that he has. The award, sponsored by John Hancock Financial Services, recognizes those individuals who truly understand the value of helping others. As a former recipient of the award, you win a lot of awards in your lifetime. There's not a whole lot of ones that stand out like the Roberto Clemente Award. Uniqueness of the award, you can only win it one time in your whole career. So the young man in the middle, you will never win this award again (laughter). But it's something that he will always remember. So I treasure this award. John Hancock was not involved when I got a little ball when I won mine back in '91. Now this looks like the Heisman Trophy. It's come a long ways (laughter).

Q. Before I continue, I'd like to have Commissioner Selig come up and share a few words (applause.)

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Thank you, Harold. Thank all of you for coming today. The Roberto Clemente Award, presented by John Hancock, is named after the great Pittsburgh Hall of Famer, who gave his life on a humanitarian mission to Nicaragua on New Year's Eve in 1972. The award is given each year to the Major League player who combines outstanding skills on the baseball field with devoted work in the community. This year's Clemente award winner is Jim Thome of the Cleveland Indians. (Applause). Jim has served as an honorary Co-Chairman of the United Way Softball Slam, which has raised nearly $200,000 for the United Way's youth program. Also, he has raised more than $200,000 through charity events for the children's hospital in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois. He and his wife, Andrea, have spent two days in each of the past five days dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for delivering toys collected through his annual toy drive to numerous youth groups in the Cleveland area, that benefits kids. On the field, Jim has had an outstanding season, batting .304, hitting a club high 52 home runs. He also led the Indians with 118 RBI and 101 runs scored. Among the former winners of this award, are such great all-timers as Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn, as well as present stars, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling and Al Leiter. I want to thank John Hancock for their support, for both this award and of Major League Baseball. Their continued efforts make this award possible. John Hancock will present a $25,000 donation in Jim Thome's honor to the Steve Palermo chapter of the National Paralysis Foundation in Leawood, Kansas. The award will be donated in the name of Jim's nephew, Brendan, who is currently battling a spinal cord injury. John Hancock will donate an additional $30,000 in Jim's name to the Roberto Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico. Jim, congratulations on a great season on the field and, more importantly, off the field. You deserve this honor (Applause).

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Sitting in the front row is Debbie Palermo. Steve is out on the field still, he was going to be in here. Thank you for what you and Steve have been doing. We're going to hear from Mrs. Clemente right now. She's asked to stay seated over there. We'll get some comment from Mrs. Clemente.

VERA CLEMENTE: Thank you, Harold. On behalf of the Clemente family, it is truly an honor to be here today to be seeing this award be given to a great human being. This award is given to a player who exemplifies sportsmanship and community involvement, as my late husband did. We thank the John Hancock Group for sponsoring the Roberto Clemente Award and by doing this, they are keeping the memory of Roberto alive. We congratulate Jim Thome for being this year's recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award. Beside a great man, there is always a great woman, and in this case, I congratulate Andrea Thome for playing such a big part in Jim's life. Thank you very much.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Thank you, Mrs. Clemente. Now I'd like to introduce Carol Fulp, vice president of community relations for John Hancock Services, that sponsors this award. As The Commissioner was talking about, this is the fourth year of involvement by them. To explain a little bit of the process, every team, all 30 teams, put a player's name into the pool, that is doing great community work for them, and is voted on by a panel, a blue ribbon panel of baseball dignitaries, including The Commissioner himself, Mrs. Clemente, as well as David D'Allessandro, chairman and chief executive officer of John Hancock Services and a list of others get to vote on this. They select a winner out of the 30. To tell you more about that and the relationship with the John Hancock Award, here is Mrs. Carol Fulp (Applause).

CAROL FULP: Thank you so much, Harold. It's a pleasure to be here. I need to tell you that the relationship with Major League Baseball and John Hancock is certainly a powerful one. We very, very much appreciate that relationship. But I think most importantly, we particularly love the Roberto Clemente Award. As you know, this award is given to the player who most exemplifies Roberto's work on the field, but for us, more importantly, off the field. So, John Hancock is proud to be here today. We've been proud to be here for the last four years and partnering with Major League Baseball in saluting such wonderful players of today, like Jim Thome. Jim, it's through your work that you allow the legacy of Roberto Clemente to continue. So, I thank you for all that you've done, and, most importantly, Jim, I thank you for all that you're about to do. Congratulations on the partnership, it's such a pleasure for all of us (applause).

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I guess you're tired of hearing from me. I think it's about time to hear from Mr. Jim Thome. If I don't introduce his wife, Andrea, then somebody's going to be in trouble up here. I'm helping you out, man. If you forget the wife, you're in big trouble (laughter). He did have a fantastic season this year. Jim, I want to congratulate you on the year you had on the field and particularly what you've been doing off the field is phenomenal. Here is the Santa Claus of Cleveland, himself, Mr. Jim Thome (applause).

JIM THOME: My wife, about an hour ago, told me, she goes, "Jim, you weren't this nervous playing in Game 7 in the '97 World Series." I really want to -- obviously, there's a bunch of people I want to thank. But this is a very, very humbling award, and I feel very honored to be here. As a kid, when I heard about Roberto Clemente, I heard about a tremendous ballplayer. It wasn't until I was nominated for this award that I realized what a tremendous human being he was. It is truly an honor to have my name associated with this great legend. I feel very humbled and in awe to be here today, but I have to be honest - I feel that there should be a lot of people here standing behind me also accepting this award. First of all, I'd like to thank my wife for just being Mrs. Claus and carrying the little elf (applause.) I'd like to thank my parents, Chuck and Joyce for raising me, I feel, the right way. Without them, obviously, I wouldn't be here. But I know they're back in Peoria, watching the game tonight on TV. I know they're going to be very proud. I want to thank them. The communities of Peoria and Cleveland, the fans of Cleveland, my friends, the community of Peoria, they've given so much that, like I said, I think they should be here with me. I want to thank both of those cities. The United Way, the Great Home Run Foundation that I've taken part in in Cleveland, it's been outstanding and I've truly enjoyed it. Steve and Debbie Palermo and the National Paralysis Foundation. When my nephew was injured, it was ironic that the first person after his injury that I saw was Debbie and Steve. They've been a Godsend. They've really helped me more than I think words can describe. I want to thank Debbie and Steve. They've been great (applause). Commissioner Bud and Major League Baseball, for having this game being played tonight. Carol Fulp of John Hancock Financial Services, all your support, financially and everything, all the hard work that you guys put in also. And, of course, the Clemente family. You've done an amazing job of continuing the legacy that your husband and father have started. I can only hope to be that kind of player and humanitarian that he was. Thank you all for this great honor. It really means a lot.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I got a couple other people I want to introduce, then we'll set it up where you can take pictures with Jim and the trophy and the family and everybody else. Couple of Roberto's sons here, Roberto, Jr. and Luis. They've been a big part of keeping their dad's name alive. They've done so many things, not only in Puerto Rico, but around the world, and just continuing to keep that flame burning. We appreciate all the things you guys do in giving your lives to a tremendous legacy to follow. You've done a tremendous job doing it. I want to compliment you both on that. Mrs. Clemente, we thank you for allowing us to share a small part of your husband's life. We appreciate that. Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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