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October 28, 2007

Hank Aaron

Prince Fielder

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

Michael Troetti


CHARLEY STEINER: Good afternoon, and welcome to the 2007 presentation of the Hank Aaron Awards. My name is Charley Steiner from the Los Angeles Dodgers and XM Satellite Radio. It is my privilege to introduce, and in many cases reintroduce, those on the dais today.
First, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig; Hank Aaron, who needs no introduction; Michael Troetti, who is the President of Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America; and Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers.
On behalf of Major League Baseball, I also want to acknowledge several guests who are seated in the front row, one of whom you just met just a couple minutes ago, Billye Aaron, the wife of Hank Aaron; Chanel Fielder, who is the wife of Prince Fielder; Mark Attanasio, who is the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers; and sitting right next to him is Doug Melvin, the General Manager of the Brewers; and sitting next to him is Bob DuPuy, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball; and Tim Brosnan, the Executive Vice President of Business for Major League Baseball.
And now it's my pleasure and honor to introduce to you baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who will explain not only the origin but the meaning of the Sharp Presents Hank Aaron Award.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Good afternoon again. The Hank Aaron Award was created in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record.
I must tell you on a personal note that I had the privilege of seeing Hank play his first game and his last game and many in between. While obviously I'm partial and not ashamed to admit that, he clearly, as far as I'm concerned, was the greatest baseball player that I ever saw play, and he was even better off the field.
The interesting part of it was that he's still the same really wonderful human being today that he was back in the '50s, which in this day and age doesn't always happen.
So this award to commemorate his greatness, fittingly goes to the most outstanding offensive performer in each league. It's voted on by baseball fans through MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball. This year more than 400,000 votes were cast, and the winners, I'm proud to announce, are Prince Fielder, the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman in the National League, and the New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the American League. Alex unfortunately cannot be with us today because of prior commitments, but I'm pleased that Prince is here to accept this award from Hank.
Prince, who received 16 percent of the National League fan vote, had an outstanding season for the Brewers. He became the youngest player in Major League history to hit 50 home runs in a season and finished with a National League leading 52. He was second in the league in slugging percentage, third in extra-base hits, tied for third in RBIs and fourth in total bases, a really remarkable year.
Alex Rodriguez received 24 percent of the American League vote. He too had a great year, leading the Major Leagues in home runs with 54, RBIs with 156, slugging percentage at .645. He's a two-time American League Most Valuable Player, and he's in pretty good shape to win a third one this year. This is the fourth time that Alex has won the Hank Aaron Award having won it previously in 2001, 2002 and 2003. I want to thank Sharp for its sponsorship of this award and for its strong relationship with Major League Baseball. It's very much appreciated.
So it is a privilege, Hank, to turn it back over to you, and this award which I think is really so critical, I think it's really gotten to be one of our great and most meaningful awards, and it's great to do it again this year. Henry?
HANK AARON: Thanks again, Commissioner. Let me again just say that this award is very, very important. Let me thank you, I want to thank the voters, and the reason I want to thank the voters is because this award is very, very important. I know a lot of people think that to hit 50 home runs and to do some of the things that Prince Fielder did this past year is easy. I've seen in my time in the 23 years that I played baseball a lot of guys, a lot of players, hit an awful lot of home runs but couldn't produce in the clutch, could not hit in the clutch.
Prince did that all year. He carried his ballclub all year. And he is a young man, to be honest with you. He's young.
So when you see someone who has the credential that he had and do the things that he did this past year, you have to say that he is on his way to being part of the Cooperstown brigade.
At this time I'd like to thank Prince Fielder and congratulate him on his outstanding year for winning this award. And I want to thank him again for playing in a city which I hold very dear to my heart, and that's Milwaukee. I played there for such a long time. And I do know that if you go there with the idea of playing the way you played this past year that you are loved by the fans of Milwaukee, and they love you. I know I've seen you play many, many times, and they just rave over you. You had an outstanding year.
I also want to thank Sharp for their concern and what they have done and the way they have stood out and presented themselves. I want to thank them, I want to thank all of the people -- I said a moment ago that I'd like to thank the voters because when you bring something new, as the Commissioner brought in a few years ago, people start saying, well, we're getting another award, we're getting another award, we're getting another award. If someone would hold a hand up and say, what was the most important thing, Hank, that you did in your 23 years in baseball, I wouldn't say the home runs, I wouldn't say the batting average, but I would say the runs batted in and the runs scored, because those are the two things that win ballgames. You can hit home runs, you can hit home runs with nobody on base, you can touch home plate with nobody on base, but the most important thing is batted-in runs, especially when you have runners in scoring position.
So again, let me thank Prince Fielder. I want to thank Sharp, I want to thank the voters, and I certainly want to congratulate you, Prince, on an outstanding year, and may God continue to bless you in a city, I think, that always will love you. Thank you.
CHARLEY STEINER: Before we continue, I want to introduce to you Judah Zeigler, who is the Associate Vice President of Sharp Electronics, and now it's my pleasure to introduce to you the President of Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America, Michael Troetti. Michael?
MICHAEL TROETTI: Thank you very much. On behalf of everyone at Sharp Electronics Corporation, we are thrilled to be here at Game Four of the World Series and to be sponsoring an award named after truly an inspiring athlete.
2007 has been an exciting season for us. Our first as the official HDTV of Major League Baseball, and both of this year's Hank Aaron Award winners are also 2007 regular-season recipients of the Player of the Month Award sponsored by Sharp.
We are proud to honor them again this evening as the top offensive players in their respective leagues and are equally honored that Mr. Aaron is sharing his association with this prestigious award with Sharp. Thank you again, and congratulations to this year's winners.
CHARLEY STEINER: Before we get to a question-and-answer session, I want to introduce to you the Hank Aaron Award winner from the National League, Prince Fielder. Prince, the microphone is yours, my friend.
PRINCE FIELDER: I just want to say thanks to Sharp for the award and thanks to Hank for just saying what he said because that's awesome. I mean, I'm only 23, and when I was in high school I never thought I was going to be able to sit by him and him say all those great things about me, so that's awesome. So I'm just going to keep working hard, and hopefully he'll keep saying those great things.
I'm speechless right now just because I've got a Hall-of-Famer right here. It's just a great day.
CHARLEY STEINER: We've got a few minutes now for a question-and-answer session. A microphone will be passed around, and we ask that questions please pertain to the season that was and the year that was for Prince Fielder and the Commissioner. Let the questions begin.

Q. You're well aware of Hank's legacy in Milwaukee. Does that make it even more meaningful that his name is on the award and that you're a young Milwaukee player like he once was?
PRINCE FIELDER: Yeah. Like I said, that's the whole thing. I met him before growing up, and he was nice to me then. I wasn't thinking while we were eating dinner together that I was going to sit by him today and receive his award. It's just a great honor.

Q. Now that there's some distance from the events of the summer, do you think in the minds of people as they look at offense and the home runs, they look at home runs the same way in your era, or do they devalue them at all because of everything that's transpired?
HANK AARON: I don't know. I think that home runs will always have a special place in baseball's heart. When someone hit a home run, it's just something that is magic about it. I mean, it will always be there. But when I said -- I was speaking as a baseball player. To me the most exciting thing on a baseball field is when someone hit a triple, you don't never know whether he's going to be thrown out at third base or what. But a home run is a home run.
So it will always have a special place in the hearts of baseball people, and it should. But I think that if you talk to teams and team owners and people who -- teams that win championships and things like that, it's the ballclub that does the complete things like runs batted in, bunt with guys on first base, do little things, field ground balls and things like that, that's the most important thing.

Q. A couple outstanding things about your career but you never hit 50 home runs in a season like the young man next to you, but you still had the home run record for so many years, plus the fact that you're the only person in history to ever hit over 700 home runs, 2,000 RBIs, 3,000 base hits. That sets you apart from everybody in the game. Could you explain your consistency, how this applies to the award and the whole tenor of how this came about and the legacy that you're leaving for baseball for all-time?
HANK AARON: Well, I think the thing that -- when the season started each year, what I wanted to do as a baseball player, I wanted to not strike out 100 times. I played 23 years, and I think I still hold that mark. I never did strike out 100 times. I refused to do that.
To me that was the most embarrassing thing in baseball was me walking up to the plate and having a pitcher strike me out. I'm not saying I didn't do it because they did it, but I would not let them continue to do it. That was the thing that I think that I see a lot of players today take very lightly is that they strike out and they go back and they don't try to figure out what the game is all about.
You know, all of the things that I accomplished in baseball when I played for 23 years, the home run was one thing that I always said it came second. The most important thing is for me to walk up to the plate and try to make sure that I made contact and do something to help my team.

Q. Prince, how much more comfortable were you in your second year in the majors than you were in your rookie year, and how did that translate into your success this season?
PRINCE FIELDER: I think honestly I felt the same, just because everybody knows I kind of grew up around baseball. So I mean, it didn't -- I felt the same, I think it's just the experience kind of helped. I don't think it was anything to do with comfort because my rookie year all my teammates took care of me, so I think it was just me getting a little more experience and getting lucky at the same time, too.
HANK AARON: I'd like to ask Prince one question, really. I watched him in Milwaukee quite a bit because lots of my friends are still in Milwaukee so I get back there and watch him quite a bit. The one thing I watched and I saw this year, he had all kinds of confidence in his ability. When he went up to the plate and he didn't do what he wanted to do, the next time he walked to the plate, you could see it in his face that he was going to do even better. And that really exemplified what a great athlete. Next year he's going to be even better.
So I would say that last year, the first year was great, last year was great, but I think the next six or seven years are going to be even better because he's going to have all kinds of confidence in his ability and what he can do at the plate and can do things.
CHARLEY STEINER: Thank you all for coming. Now we invite the photographers for a photo op for the fellows here at the dais. Thank you, and enjoy Game Four of the World Series tonight.

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