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July 12, 2004

Karl Ravech

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

HOUSTON, TEXAS - 500 Home Run Hitters Press Conference

KARL RAVECH: Welcome. We, as you know, are in the midst of greatness. It's a humbling experience not only to be up here, but I am sure to be where you are, seated with 20 players who have done something that only they have done in the history of the game. This is a very special and historic event honor the 20 Major League Baseball players who have hit 500 or more career home runs. As we get underway, I'd first like to introduce and acknowledge Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig on behalf of everyone here today when the millions who will be watching the Century 21 Home Run Derby later on ESPN, I would like to thank you and Major League Baseball for bringing these truly monumental players together for this event. At this time I would like to introduce the other men seated to my left. Beginning in the front row next to the commissioner are Henry Aaron -- and up here you see the total home runs: Henry Aaron, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson; Mark McGwire; Harmon Killibrew; Reggie Jackson, by order of home runs but as you see Reggie is seated a seat away; thank you, Reggie. Of course, the great Willie McCovey sitting down there on the end. Here in the second row: Sammy Sosa; it says Mike Schmidt, but I don't know how you don't say Michael Jack Schmidt; Rafael Palmeiro; only you figured a way to get introduced twice, Reggie Jackson; Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks; Eddie Murray; and it really is a treat to have somebody who of course would much rather be playing but is here, and we appreciate that, Ken Griffey, Jr. Not only are these 500 career home run hitters being acknowledged at this press conference tonight, but they are also being honored as part of the ceremonies leading into the Century 21 Home Run Derby. What better way to honor the truly gifted players who have hit 500 or more home runs, certainly, than with the festivities tonight surrounding the Century 21 Home Run Derby, that is an event that as you know has come to epitomize and showcase the best home run hitters in the game. And the field, with all due respect to Ken, is as good as it can be, and we appreciate the players who have contributed to that. I'd like to acknowledge the support of the rest of the Century 21 Corporation and Century 21 CEO Tom Koontz. Century 21 is the official real estate corporation of Major League Baseball and ESPN's title sponsor of the Home Run Derby. Right now, I'd like to direction your attention to a special video highlighting the achievements of the Major League Baseball 500 home run hitters. (Video played). Whether it's true or not that hitting a baseball is the most difficult thing in the sports environment to do, consider that nobody has done it with more power and more often than these guys sitting next to us. It's awesome. Our thanks to Major League Baseball productions for putting together that video about the achievements of the Major League Baseball 500 home run hitters. I'd now like to ask the commissioner, Bud Selig, to step to the podium and say a few words about the players that are gathered here today.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Thank you, Carl, and good afternoon. This is truly an historic occasion as we have the honor, the distinct honor of being here today with the 14 living Major League Baseball players who have hit 500 or more career home runs. When you stop and consider there have been more than 16,000 players, you can understood the magnitude this distinguished achievement. When I was growing up, many years ago, there were only three players, Babe Ruth, Jimmy Fox and Mel Ott, who had shattered the 500 home run plateau. So to be standing here today and to realize that I've had the privilege of seeing every one of these great athletes play in person during their careers, is a great moment for me personally. I have often said that Major League Baseball is in the midst of a great renaissance. This is our golden era. To illustrate that, we currently have four active players, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Ken Griffey, Jr. with 500 or more home runs. Not since 1971 when Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killibrew, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson were playing has Major League Baseball had more 500 home run hitters; this is a rare and special era in baseball history, to have that many active home run hitters for the first time since the early 70s. I'd like to thank all of the players for being here this year, this special day in their honor. I'd also like to thank Century 21 for being the title sponsor of tonight's big event, particularly its president and CEO, Tom Koontz. The Century 21 Home Run Derby has gotten to be a great part of the baseball landscape. Finally, I want to acknowledge the fine work and dedication of our broadcast partner, ESPN, which does such a wonderful job broadcasting the Century 21 Home Run Derby, and so many other baseball events into the homes of our fans. So, it's a pleasure to be here today, and I know that all of you enjoy the history and drama of this game as much as I do, and this is really a particularly poignant moment. Thank you all for being here. (Applause).

KARL RAVECH: Every night on Baseball Tonight, we show all of the home runs that are hit, and I know that I speak for the people that work on the program and thankfully the people that watch it, from the heart, to say thank you to these guys who do what you do on a nightly basis. And to be able to have logged a daily diary for last ten years, you realize when you stand up here with these guys what an honor it's been. Commissioner Selig, thanks very much. Please be reminded that all 14 of these players will be honored prior to tonight's Century 21 Home Run Derby, and that Barry, Sammy and I Rafael will be participating in Toyota's Century 21 Home Run Derby. As you know, Ken Griffey, Jr. was scheduled to participate, but unfortunately is unable due to injury. And Junior, please, as I said before, know that we all appreciate the fact that you made the trip to Houston to be part of these events despite that injury. Also during tonight's live telecast the ESPN team will be interviewing many of the retired 500 home run hitters to give viewers at home that same up close opportunity to hear from these amazing hitters that we have enjoyed this afternoon and the fans attending the Century 21 Home Run Derby will enjoy this evening.

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