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October 24, 2000

Wayne Budd

Roberto Clemente

Luis Clemente

Al Leiter

Allan H. "Bud" Selig


HAROLD REYNOLDS: First of all, I want to thank you for showing up for this press conference. My name is Harold Reynolds. I'm with ESPN. I'm a former Roberto Clemente Award winner in 1991. The Roberto Clemente Award is the highest honor that any baseball player can receive, because it's an award that is for a person who exemplifies what baseball means on and off the field. If you don't know the story of Roberto Clemente, you're not watching baseball. But he passed away in a plane crash in 1972, taking relief aid to Nicaragua. In honor of him and his humanitarian work, we started the Roberto Clemente Award. Every year Major League Baseball picks a player for his work on and off the field. You see who this year's recipient is. We have a couple of Roberto's sons here. Luis and Roberto, Jr. They have a couple comments. I'll turn it over to them real quick.

LUIS CLEMENTE: Excuse me. My mother, Vera Clemente, she is not of good health this night. She was not able to come to New York. She was really, really happy to know that Al Leiter was the recipient of the award. And it's funny because when we were going through the nominees, she'd make a mark on your page. When she found out you actually won the award, she was very happy about that because you do an incredible work with the community, and that's basically what our father did all the time. He felt that the fans were the ones that deserved all the recognition. You've done an incredible job. Al, Lori, we congratulate your whole family for the task you have done.

AL LEITER: Thank you.

ROBERTO CLEMENTE, JR.: I would like to congratulate you personally. I've been in New York. I know what you mean to the city and to the fans, and mostly to the community, and the work that you've done. You've done an excellent job. It exemplifies what Dad was in life. He played -- he gave it all. He lived the way he believed. That was a way to give to others. You've been doing the same thing. I truly, truly congratulate you in this award.

AL LEITER: Thank you.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Recently the award has been changed to the John Hancock Award. They've gotten involved with us, and we're very grateful for that. We're in a second year of a five-year commitment for John Hancock.

WAYNE BUDD: Thank you, Harold. I'm delighted to be here. John Hancock is proud to continue supporting the Roberto Clemente Award and all it represents. As I begin, I'd like to thank some of the many people who have been involved. Of course, Luis and Roberto were very proud of the work you're doing, the support in your personal dedication to this award. I'd also like to thank Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig for helping make this award such a prestigious honor. As you all know, Roberto Clemente was one of baseball's all-time greats. He also knew how to give back to the community. John Hancock shares that passion. And that's why we want to be involved with this award. This year's Roberto Clemente Award winner, Al Leiter, exemplifies what this award is all about. Mr. Leiter's excellence on the baseball field is matched only by his commitment to the community. By founding Leiter's Landing with his wife, Lori, who's here with us this evening, Al Leiter has reached up and made a difference to you. In his honor, Hancock will make a donation to Leiter's Landing to support this foundation's very important work. We are also going to make a contribution at John Hancock to the Roberto Clemente Sports City, and the Roberto Clemente Foundation, as well as the various local charities selected by the 30 award finalists. In closing, I wish to congratulate Al Leiter once again on behalf of John Hancock for this honor that he's received and for his accomplishments, both on and off the field. Thank you very much, and congratulations, Al. Lori, congratulations. (Applause.)

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Once again, thanks to John Hancock, there are 30 representatives. Each ballclub has a representative for the Roberto Clemente Award, then voted on, and Al Leiter was obviously the winner for Major League Baseball. They have made a commitment that they give money to each club, each person's foundation, whatever they're involved in. It's a major commitment by John Hancock. We appreciate that. Just a simple note: When I won the Roberto Clemente Award in '91, I got a little baseball. (Laughter.) That's what happens when John Hancock gets involved. (Laughter.) Now, I get to introduce the Commissioner of Baseball, I'm honored to introduce, he's a tremendous man. I'm going to have you all rise. When you're in the presence of greatness, we rise up out of our seats. I'm not joking. He's going to make a presentation.

AL LEITER: Harold, you work for ESPN, not Major League Baseball.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: No, I'm dead serious about this. All rise. It's time for the presentation of the Roberto Clemente Award winner, Mr. Bud Selig.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Thank you, Harold. Before I start, if you only got a baseball, and Al's about to get this big award, I hope that isn't a sign that Al's done that much more than you did in '91. I know it isn't. Thank you, Harold.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: You can all be seated.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: The Roberto Clemente Award is one of Major League Baseball's most prestigious awards. It is named after one of Major League Baseball's great players, more importantly one of its finest citizens. It is a tribute to each of the 30 men who have won this award to carry home a trophy that bears the name Roberto Clemente. Major League Baseball thanks the Clemente family for their involvement and presentation of this award, and to our partners at John Hancock, for their valued support. It is my honor, on behalf of Major League Baseball and John Hancock, to present the award to the 31st winner, Al Leiter, of the New York Mets. Among their many charitable endeavors, Al and his wife, Lori, several years ago founded Leiter's Landing, a foundation that benefits children in need through better education, health care, and social and community service. Al, besides being an exceptional pitcher, is an excellent role model for kids. He's dedicated to helping those less fortunate than himself. He is a worthy winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, and Major League Baseball is proud of his deeds both on and off the field. I just also want to add that when you think of all the things that we try to accomplish in baseball, it's the work that we do off the field that sometimes, and most times, goes unnoticed, but is the most important. And so this is really a very important award. And, Al, I'm proud to present to you the Roberto Clemente Award. Congratulations. (Applause.)

AL LEITER: Thank you. First, I'd like to express my best wishes to Vera Clemente to get well soon, and Luis and Roberto. I am overwhelmed by being the recipient of this award. I'm a little taken aback, because I realize the importance of not only the Roberto Clemente Award and what it meant, or what it means. Obviously, a great man who understood that being a celebrity baseball player wasn't the only aspect of being a human being and helping and giving back. Before I thank my wife and kids, it all starts from good parents. And my mother's here today. I don't want to get too overwhelmed, but it starts from Mom and Dad. And it's pretty simple. I think you give back. I look at my career as a baseball player, it's been an unbelievable dream. Everybody talks, as I progress in my 13th year as a Major Leaguer, "Did you ever think you'd do this and that? A World Series? No-hitters?" No, I didn't. I came from a small town at the Jersey Shore. Every day overwhelms me. I do appreciate every part of this life of mine. It makes me even more aware of giving back. I also want to thank Jay Horowitz. He's a very good man, and very, very -- most people in baseball know Jay. I was extremely happy when he told me. But I think he's equally as proud and happy, and in some respects, this is for you, too, Jay. Lori, my wife here, just on and on. I don't want to continue. But I think the message is that Roberto Clemente, obviously, did what it took to do the right things off the field. I think it's so simple. And sometimes people just don't get it: To give back. I think also, too, having my children here today and expressing and teaching at a young age what it means to be charitable and give back. It's simple. I think we all have it in our hearts. Thank you. I am so honored. Thank you, John Hancock, too, for making a ball turn into a beautiful trophy, I guess. Sorry, Harold. (Laughter.) (Applause.) Everybody who was in the selection process, I know it was extensive. I guess from Mr. Selig, right on down. I'm so honored. Thank you.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: We also have a check presentation. Here to do that, John Hancock will present to Al Leiter for Leiter's Landing. I'm going to turn this over to Wayne Budd. I'll hold the mike for you, and you can make the presentation.

WAYNE BUDD: Al, as promised, this is a check to Leiter's Landing in the amount of $25,000 from John Hancock presented to you, to represent our strong belief in the great work that you and Lori are doing at Leiter's Landing. Congratulations.

AL LEITER: Thank you. (Applause.)

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Wayne Budd, John Hancock has one more presentation to the Roberto Clemente Foundation.

WAYNE BUDD: This is a check for $30,000 being presented to the Roberto Clemente Foundation, again, in recognition of the outstanding work being done by the Roberto Clemente Foundation. Congratulations.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Al, you're not finished yet. I know it's almost game time. We have a special gift from the Roberto Clemente Foundation and an artist named James Fiorentino. He has a photo, a picture that has been drawn, and this is from James.

AL LEITER: I know James's work. As a matter of fact, we had a piece last year that raised money.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: That is special. I'll tell you what, I'm nine years late. (Laughter.) That concludes our ceremony. Thank you, everybody, for attending. We appreciate that. (Applause.)

End of FastScripts....

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