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July 9, 2001
DAVE NIEHAUS: I'm Dave Niehaus from the Seattle Mariners and welcome to Seattle, a town that is, as you know, on fire, not only for the All-Star Game, but because of the way their own ballclub has been playing. I was here in 1979, too, so I remember what it was like then and what it is like now, and it is unbelievable what has transpired in this Midsummer Classic. We welcome you, we're going to have magnificent weather and we hope you enjoy yourselves. The two leading vote-getters, Barry Bonds of the Giants and Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners will be available in their respective team sessions here a little bit later on. They will both be available, Barry Bonds and Ichiro. Also, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken will be available with Commissioner Bud Selig at four o'clock this afternoon at SAFECO Field, and that will be in the interview room. They say I am supposed to introduce the honorary captains. This is an unbelievable pleasure for me, both of them have given us some incredible thrills. First of all, the American League honorary captain, and as you know going into the Hall of Fame this year, a nice welcome for Kirby Puckett. And a man who goes back a long, long way, former president of the Philadelphia Phillies, nice to see his ballclub doing so well this year, Mr. Bill Giles. Now the honorary league president, I worked for her husband for ten years, and still the greatest man I've ever had the opportunity to work for, and anyone who ever came into contact with Gene Autry knows exactly what I am talking about. Mrs. Gene Autry, Jackie Autry is the American League's honorary president. I meant to introduce Bill Giles, the honorary National League president. I forgot the honorary captain so I'm ahead of myself. Of course, the authors of the most famous home run in baseball history, the shot heard round the world, Ralph Blanca and Bobby Thomson. Jackie, I'm going to call you up and have you introduce a man who got in about 4:30 this morning, and his counter part in the National League, likewise got in about 4:30 this morning, will you do the honors for the American League manager.
JACKIE AUTRY: Good morning, everybody. Phyllis tells me I'm supposed to keep this short because you have dozens of questions to ask Joe. I know you've all received his bio, so I am not going to read it off to you. It is my pleasure to represent from the American League and introduce my good friend and Gene's good friend as well because he also worked for Gene, as well, Joe Torre.
JOE TORRE: Thank you, Jackie. Well, I am sort of embarrassed to say I am again honored to be the manager of the All-Star Team. It is an unbelievable happening, basically. I mean, the All-Star Team is a very special thing. Seattle is a very special city and what has happened to this city, considering just a few years ago they were talking about where are we going to put the Seattle Mariners, and to have it catch fire and not only have the type of team that they have this year, but a wonderful ballpark, a wonderful city, and as I say, I'm proud to be here and I'm very happy to announce the starting lineup, and I think you'll recognize most of the names. The leadoff hitter and playing center field, Ichiro Suzuki; Alex Rodriguez will be the shortstop, batting second. Manny Ramirez will be playing left field, batting third. Bret Boone, the clean-up hitter, playing second base. Juan Gonzalez, right field, batting fifth. John Olerud at first base will hit seventh. The designated hitter, Edgar Martinez. Cal Ripken, the third baseman and Ivan Rodriguez. That's a pretty good team when you have Pudge batting ninth. What do you think, Curt?
CURT SCHILLING: All right.
JOE TORRE: Again, it is my pleasant to introduce my starting pitcher. I think it's your turn next, Roger Clemens.
ROGER CLEMENS: Well, thank you. It's pretty exciting. I appreciate it. I don't know, I look forward to it once I hear Bobby's lineup, but coming in here this morning -- actually I was talking to my four boys, a few of them, about who might be the starting pitcher and to see Curt get that honor, I'm excited for him, too. We had a conversation a long time ago, about which way our careers were kind of going in Houston, and it was a pretty good conversation, and what he's done since has just been remarkable, so I'm happy and proud for him. It's great to be here. I don't know, I look forward to facing that lineup, but we'll make it fun for everybody. Thanks.
BILL GILES: The All-Star Game has always been very special to the Giles family with my father being president of the League, and I have been connected to the National League for 65 years, since when I was two years old my father ran the Cincinnati Reds. It's a real honor to be involved in representing the National League, and to be able to think about 60 of the greatest athletes in the world playing here tomorrow night. My dad's record when he was president of the League was 18-5. He took the All-Star Game very seriously. So I told Bobby, I said "Let's win this. We haven't won in the National League since 1996 in Philadelphia." So it is my pleasure to introduce to you, the manager of the National League champion New York Mets, Bobby Valentine.
BOBBY VALENTINE: Thanks, Bill. Unlike Joe, this is my first honor and it's indeed, an honor. I can't think of anything that could be better than to spend this next few days here in your company and the company of the greatest ballplayers on earth. Dave said he was here in '79; I was here in '79. I played in the Kingdome. I played for the Mariners, who were having a dismal year, but I did go to the All-Star Game and I saw one of Joe's coaches. He had a dramatic opposite-field, line-drive home run, Lee Mazzilli, Dave Parker to throw out the runner at the plate to get the MVP and that was one of the real thrills of my last year of being in uniform as a player for sure. Without any further adieu, I would like to introduce the starting lineup. You already have it, but a guy who is having one of the great years of all time, he's getting the honor being the leadoff hitter, that's Luis Gonzalez. He's probably going to get more than two at bats -- I'm hoping that anyway. That's why I'm batting him lead-off so the national audience can see him. Todd Helton has become one of the best players in baseball is batting second. A guy who is going to play -- I think just got through talking with him, the most of all of our All-Stars other than our second baseman is Barry Bonds. I think the spotlight should be on him in this All-Star Game, considering the season and the career he's had. Sammy Sosa is fourth. Larry walker at DH is fifth, from everything I hear he is fine and ready to go. Mike Piazza worked out in the bullpen yesterday. His toe is fine and ready to go. Catching and batting sixth. Chipper Jones, I can't imagine him hitting seventh in any lineup other than this one. Jeff Kent last year's MVP is hitting eighth, and because he's playing the entire game and the only second baseman selected, he'll hopefully get four or maybe even more at bats and showcase what he can do. And Rich Aurilia, first timer here, who is going to be as excited as I am, first time being in an All-Star Game is batting ninth and playing shortstop. Thank you very much. I think I'm supposed to introduce our starting pitcher, Curt Schilling.
CURT SCHILLING: Thank you. I don't have a whole lot to add, other than it's an honor -- it's very exciting until you get to see the lineups, it's really exciting. Then there's a moment of pause and hope that everybody is hacking and swinging and getting out there early. This is my fourth time, and each time, it's been more fun, more exciting. It's truly an honor. Roger said this is incredibly ironic, I think in my professional lineup, to be starting opposite the All-Star Game with him ten years after -- he made it sound like we had a conversation. There wasn't much of a conversation. It was one of those conversations your father has with you when you are going down at a stage in life and you need to make a right turn. My career turned around immediately after that. I'm very grateful, always have been, that he took the time in his career to make a point to talk to me. This should be fun. I'm honored. Thank you, Bobby for the chance to start and Mr. Giles, for nine good years, and let's have fun tonight.
DAVE NIEHAUS: The dais is open for your questions now.
Q. The 1983 All-Star Game, you were a coach that year, what were your memories of that?
JOE TORRE: Any time you see the greatest, and that's what's so chilling about an All-Star Game is you have the best players in the world. We don't have them all year. I mean, there are more players that I think should be added to the rosters every year, but you can only take so many. Johnny Bench, obviously, and Carl, were my contemporaries and were terrific players and played for a long time. Johnny Bench, he said the standard for catchers. Yogi is one of my favorites, and of course, growing up, I watched Roy Campanella, there was a kid in our league who is not too bad, either. Pudge Rodriguez and Mike Piazza, what he does offensively, especially for that position, is really going to set all kinds of records. But that particular year, 1983, I was coaching for Whitey, and unfortunately, we didn't win the game. We got our rear ends kicked pretty good, but it is pretty special to have the great ones come back and that's why to sit here next to Kirby who is going into the Hall of Fame is pretty special. Kirby is a special guy. That's one guy that when he played the game, nobody ever worried about what he made because he always earned every time of it.
Q. Bobby, this being your first All-Star Game, how important is it for you to win the game, or do you see this as just a passion for the game, the game's greatest players?
BOBBY VALENTINE: Well, I think it is very important to play our best, and it's up to the best to win the game. I think that they can, and I think that if we put out our best effort, we are going to win that game. I'm honored to be part of it, and I think other than making a couple lineup changes, I'm going to be as much a spectator as you all are.
Q. Curt, can you talk specifically about what Roger told you that turned your career around for you? Can you be a little more specific?
CURT SCHILLING: Not a lot of it is printable. (Laughter.) It was just a turning -- we were down in the weight room in the Astrodome and our hitting coach -- Roger was working out, as Roger does, and I was kind of wandering around the weight room, just passing time, and our hitting coach said Roger wanted to have a few minutes of my time. I went over to his side of the weight room and about an hour and 15 minutes later, with no butt, I walked back to the other end of the weight room. But I've always been someone, one of the things I'm proudest of is even though I talk probably more than a little, I'm a good listener. Having a guy who had some Cy Young's on his shelf at home and having the reputation that he had, and knowing him from Boston -- I don't want to date him or anything, but I somewhat idolized him before I became a pro -- not long. You watch the best in the business and the best in the world go about their business; there's something to it and there's something different about it. The fact that he thought enough of me, or the game, as much as anything, to take 45 minutes, an hour out of his day and talk with me about my approach and what I wasn't doing and what he felt I needed to do, a lot about respect of the game. On the way home from the game that day, I looked at the game tremendously different. Over the years I've incorporated a lot of what he said about how I approach this job and this life and my family and my respect for the game.
Q. Bobby and Joe, was there one person that you -- when you told them about making the All-Star Team was maybe a little bit more excited than you anticipated?
JOE TORRE: Well, I don't get to tell everybody, except on my team. It was a thrill, especially for Mike Stanton who was a first-timer, but I get feedback. The latest one we named was Mike Cameron and I understand he was thrilled. I know Jeff Nelson, he pitched for me for five years, he's going to pretend it's no big deal, but I know he's excited.
BOBBY VALENTINE: Like with Joe, I didn't get to tell anyone except for my own players, and Rick Reed was ecstatic. Regretfully, he can't pitch in this game because of a sore neck. And from messages I've gotten, I think Phil Nevin was rather pleased and I'm sure everybody was as excited as they could be, other than the ones who were not voted on. I think it is an extreme honor to be here.
Q. Bobby, I was wondering, what would be the first thing you say to Cliff Floyd when you get to see him?
BOBBY VALENTINE: Probably congratulations, welcome, let's go get 'em. What do you think I'm going to say? (Laughter.) What would make a good story? (Laughter.)
Q. Has there been too much made about all this stuff?
BOBBY VALENTINE: Yes. Yes.
Q. Roger, talk about your memories in 1986, pitching in Houston, the All-Star Game and your thoughts, 15 years later, starting, and the best part of that thrill being able to share it with your kids?
ROGER CLEMENS: I think it will be. Starting in Houston, which is my home, obviously, it went by so fast and everything happened so fast. The games since then, I've been able to kick back and enjoy more and visit with some of the guys more. Starting the game you just want to be prepared, as much as you can be, and obviously want to go out and make a good showing. You're going to face all the best in the other league, and at this stage in my career, you know, it's just a tremendous honor. My first time, obviously, in a Yankee uniform, so I'm very excited. To tell you, until I walked in here, I thought the conference was going to be small. And, again, to have the magnitude of this today, and just liven things up a little bit. You start getting your focus on that game, in particular, and trying to relax from the first half, get ready for the second half. I think until I actually make that stroll to the bullpen tomorrow to warm up, I'm wondering how I'm going to feel, how my emotions are going to feel. This could be my last go-round, to have an opportunity in a game like this. It's special, but I think, again, like Joe said, there's two or three guys that I was really pushing for that I wanted to see here. You know, everything that I thought it would be for Mike when I saw Joe -- I was fortunate enough to be in Joe's office and see the reaction from guys that sometimes don't show you their reactions. It was as exciting for me as it was I guess when Joe told him. So I was happy for those guys that make us starting pitchers look good. So I'm happy for a lot of guys, especially first-timers. Going to be watching Ichiro, seeing how he goes about his business, being the first time in this whole situation, just seeing the excitement in the guys that have never gone through this before.
Q. Will it be nice to finally face Piazza and get this out of the way once and for all?
ROGER CLEMENS: I've faced Mike before. Looking at the lineup, I've got to face a bunch of guys anyway. He is not the only one I have to worry about if you look at the board over there. Hopefully there will be nobody on. I've faced Mike many times.
Q. Curt, can I ask your impressions about Ichiro, and do you want to strike him out?
CURT SCHILLING: (Laughter.) Well, there's a loaded, yeah, I want to strike him out. I'm pretty sure that every TV in Japan will be tuned into the game -- yeah. One of the things a veteran pitcher told me a long time ago is that as an opposing pitcher, you have the ability to shut up a stadium. I have the ability to shut up a country for a few minutes. (Laughter.)
Q. Bob and Ralph, 1951 was 50 years ago. What is the biggest difference you notice between the All-Star Game 2001 versus 1951?
BOBBY THOMSON: I'm just happy to still be alive. (Laughter.) I'm happy to be out here with all of these great ballplayers and people that mean so much to baseball and the country.
RALPH BRANCA: Basically, I wasn't on the All-Star Team in '51. I was there in '47 and '48 and '49, at that time I was going I'd looking as Stan Musial and future Hall of Famers and staying saying what am I doing here. I started in 1948 as the starting pitcher and it was quite a thrill, something etched in your memory that you will never ever forget. The biggest difference is, some of those games, we didn't have as many people in the stands as there are here today. I think because of television, there's so much more emphasis on the game because of what baseball has done with FanFest, they have brought another aspect to it, so it is a much bigger event, and I think -- I love it. I went to FanFest and saw all the young kids out there, so I hope that baseball starts to specialize in having a fan base of young kids, because I think we are losing young people to other sports and interests -- like Nintendo, but I should not say that word in this town (Laughter.)
BOBBY THOMSON: This just dawned on me, I got a nice write-up in the paper after the All-Star Game I played in. It was by Ted Williams, and it says that I looked good striking out. (Laughter.)
Q. How do the two managers feel about winning the All-Star Game?
JOE TORRE: The most important thing about an All-Star Game is that everybody participate, and it's an event and that's what it should be, it's for the fans, and it's of course to honor the greatest players in the game. When you consider that, that 90-plus percent of the players on the team are not going to be worried about where the World Series is going to be played, I think it is insignificant to even consider that.
Q. Bobby, do you agree or disagree or do you want to add to that?
BOBBY VALENTINE: Yeah, I agree in my personal feelings for that, but I would like to see the game played to win and I'm sure everybody who is out there is going to play that way, no doubt about it. Just because everybody who is in the game doesn't mean the guy who isn't in the game isn't trying his best to win the game. That's why they are here, they are true champions.
DAVE NIEHAUS: Puck, how about you, the first time you were named to an All-Star game, what was your reaction.
KIRBY PUCKETT: Actually, my first one was 1986 and Roger started that game in Texas and I remember how excited he was, and that's when they told me the only guy in this clubhouse who is playing the whole game is you, Kirby, and it was my first one and I was starting and Roger was pitching and I didn't want to mess up in that game. We ended up winning 2-1. For me, that was exciting. I played in ten games in a row, from 1986 to 1995 when I retired and every one was very special. Like Bobby and Joe said, you play to win. I enjoy every minute of it. I had a good time ended up being in 1993 when I was tired as hell, but it was a hundred. A lot of guys should be here and whether you are picked or chosen, you should definitely be blessed to be here.
Q. For Joe and Bobby, about the All-Star format, one of the other ideas that's been floated around is instead of playing interleague play is make it America versus the rest of the world. What do you think about that idea, and who do you think would win that ballgame?
JOE TORRE: I've had the experience.
BOBBY VALENTINE: On a personal note, I don't think that's a good idea at all. I think that baseball is a symbol of America. America is a melting pot, and it is not us against the world; it's us. That we as Major League players, no matter what nationality we have, no matter what country we are from, are all Major Leaguers and it should be the exhibit of that unified effort. I don't like the idea of dividing it up into us or -- us against them in any competition or in any thought that people have when they are looking at other people or looking at our game. That's just my thought.
JOE TORRE: And my feeling is very similar. I mean, our game was great. It became greater when it became an international game. With the Asian players, the Dominicans, the Latin players. It's just been a terrific elevation of talent, and I think the game is, you know, flourishing right now because of it.
Q. I was going to ask the two managers, what were your thoughts on the controversial omissions, Floyd and Nelson, and what do you say to the couple of people who have suggested that the managers don't have to make the picks; that the picks come from somewhere else?
JOE TORRE: You're always going to have -- I know you're always going to have players who are going to be upset or felt they were snubbed. Last year, Frank Thomas had a wonderful year, and I didn't choose him. I decided to take Mike Sweeney, because he had never been there. I'm sort of in favor of first-timers; I think we have 11 of them this year. It's just one of those things. I think they should expand the roster by five, but you're still going to have people that belong there and are not going to be there. It's unfortunate. I mean, I know when Nelly was on my team last year and I didn't take him, he was upset. It's with good reason; he's having a wonderful year this year, on a terrific team, and I was able -- I'm glad I was able to add him when Rivera couldn't make it.
BOBBY VALENTINE: In a similar fashion, I'm glad that a guy who was on the line in Cliff Floyd did make it, but I'm saddened that a few of the other guys that were right there with him as being on the other side of the 30-man group are not here. I would like to see all deserving people, but, what are you going to do. That's the way it is and the way it's always been.
Q. Joe, how is Mariano Rivera and what is his reaction to not being able to make the trip?
JOE TORRE: He wanted to make the trip. He's been there before. The fact that I chose him, his own manager, he wanted to go. This thing has been bothering him probably a month, maybe more, and it's something that really doesn't affect his pitching. It's just more irritating some days than others. It is his right ankle. He understood. I think he was relieved that I made the decision for him, because going in the trainer's room every day, you know the players that are getting treatment and you know the nature of the problem, and knowing how important it is to us. I felt that the three days off were better to him and, as I say, he felt obligated and as Kirby said, honored, to be added to the club. But again, he fought me a little bit, because he didn't want, you know, me to say one of my players was backing out. I think he felt more of an obligation, and once I got him over that, he was relieved.
Q. Ralph and Bobby, could you please just relive a moment of baseball history for us?
RALPH BRANCA: Do we have to? (Laughter.)
BOBBY THOMSON: We have to, I guess.
RALPH BRANCA: That's why we're here. (Laughter.)
BOBBY THOMSON: Let's face it, I don't know if you are all tired of hearing about it. We're behind 4 -1 and all of the sudden we get a few people on -- and I was totally depressed. I thought -- how we got this far back. So we got a couple of guys on and we got another run. I said all along, when Mueller slid into third base and had me down there, worrying about him, it wasn't until they carried him off the field that I realized, hey, we got a ballgame going on here and I realized it broke the tension and made the whole difference of me walking to home plate. And in a mind set I've never been in before, because I've got 90 feet to psyche myself up, which I've never done and called myself all kinds of names. I guess getting back to fundamentals. Told myself "Give yourself a chance to hit." Called myself an SOB to get myself more aggressive and determined, and I got to home plate in a mind set that, well, they changed pitchers; I hasn't even been aware that they changed pitchers. So I took the first pitch, Sal Levardi called the first pitch a fastball. I guess I didn't notice it, but I took the first pitch right down the middle and Ralph came inside with a second pitch, kind of a waste pitch, and I had the good luck and fortune to jump on it. And certainly, you never thought -- nobody in the field, in the park that day thought that we would still be talking about it today. It's one of those things. I was a lucky guy that day.
RALPH BRANCA: I had an advantage. I had to walk in from the bullpen, 455 feet so I could psyche myself all the way to the mound. Realistically, I had pitched eight innings on Monday when I was first in the bullpen and my arm was really stiff and I knew it and when I started lobbing the ball in the sixth inning, and I had no excuse and I really got loose and I was throwing normal speed, 93, 94. And just what Bobby said, the first pitch was down the middle and he took it, and the next pitch I wanted to get up and in and waste it but I didn't get it in enough or high enough and he hit it out of the ballpark. I don't remember walking from the mound to the clubhouse, believe me. But as Bob said, who would think that 50 years later we would still be talking about it, but it is the most memorable moment in baseball history, voted that way, and I've lived with it for 50 years and I say, Hey, you think they are sending in their best pitcher or the worst pitcher.
Q. You said there were a few other players besides Floyd who were on the line to be picked. How much did the controversy with Floyd weigh in your decision?
BOBBY VALENTINE: After Rick Reed got hurt?
BOBBY VALENTINE: Then it came down to whether or not I needed another pitcher or take an outfielder. Rick Reed was hurt. I was counting on him for one inning, and when the League said that Larry walker's arm was bothering him and he was kind of iffy, I decided to go with a fielder instead of a pitcher. All the guys that were on that -- all of the guys that were on that edge were pitchers.
Q. Bobby, did you consider giving Gwynn -- making Gwynn an active player, to get an at-bat, as opposed to just the honorary?
BOBBY VALENTINE: It wasn't even a consideration of mine, Tony Gwynn getting an at-bat. I was told when the selection process came around that Tony was going to be the 31st guy and he would be in uniform and would not be on the 30-man roster.
Q. Roger, would you like to be able to face him?
ROGER CLEMENS: I believe I faced Tony my first game, I believe in Houston, and I faced him during that stint that I had. That was enjoyable then.
Q. Would you like to get another chance against him?
ROGER CLEMENS: I think that we are both pretty close to the same age; it would probably still be the same battle. I think those guys, it's like Wade Boggs and Tony, Mattingly to an extent, those great hitters, guys instead of trying to pitch to them, throw it down the middle and let them get themselves out if they can. They are tough to pitch to, contact hitters that can do so much with the baseball.
Q. Roger and Curt, do you approach tomorrow night with any of the same intensity and preparation that you would a regular-season game that counts or is it less because it doesn't count?
ROGER CLEMENS: I think you have to, definitely starting off. I'll go through the same routine that I do to start a ballgame. You know, you're not going to be as detailed as pitching to guys. I think whatever we warm up with, we'll go with our strength there. I know the one inning I think I had in Colorado, I tried everything to make my split finger go down in that air and it would not go down, so we left that pitch in the bullpen and went with fastball, slider, and that was just in that stadium, that situation. Just see how I feel and go with what's working. Tell Pudge what's coming and see if we can get through some of these guys.
Q. Kirby, Cal Ripken was the rescuer of the game in 1995; this could be his last presentation in an All-Star Game. How do you feel about him being at this game? Would you rather have seen him like 1995 when he was in the prime of his career, or to say good-bye in a situation like he will be in in tomorrow's game?
KIRBY PUCKETT: Cal is a good friend of mine, so I definitely think he should be here no doubt about it. He meant so much to the game. I think what you saw Cal Ripken do in our lives; that, you will ever see again. I don't think there's anybody that's going to break that record. I'm honored just to be his friend. I'm honored to sit on the bench with him and talk to him. I'm glad to see him play again. I think everybody up here on this panel, we'll all agree we are glad to see him and Tony here, send them off like the stars that they are.
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