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October 25, 2008

Phil Caruso

Vera Clemente

Albert Pujols

Allan H. "Bud" Selig


KARL RAVECH: Welcome everyone. I'm Karl Ravech with ESPN and this is an important night, with certainly the significant announcement as the winner of the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevy will be handed out.
Let me introduce dais here. The baseball Commissioner of course is Bud Selig.
Vera Clemente, the wife of Roberto Clemente.
Phil Caruso, who is here with Chevrolet and Chevy.
And the seven-time All-Star, 2005 National League MVP, Albert Pujols, who could very well win the 2008 National League MVP with one elbow.
On behalf of Major League Baseball, I'd also like to acknowledge some of the people here in the front row. Luis Clemente is here, the son of Roberto Clemente. Roberto Clemente, Jr. is also here. Justin Michael Corona, the brother-in-law of Albert Pujols, sitting in for Albert's wife. Bill DeWitt, III, the president of the St. Louis Cardinals. And here is Todd Perry, who represents the Pujols Family Foundation, he's the executive director.
I'd like to introduce the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, who will officially now announce the winner of the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award by Chevy.
COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I want to thank all of you for joining us here tonight for this very important announcement. The Roberto Clemente Award is one of baseball's most prestigious awards. As you know, it is named after the great Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder, not only for his greatness as a ballplayer, but for the contributions he made to those in need. Sadly, the great Roberto Clemente passed away while on a mercy mission to assist earthquake victims in Nicaragua on December 31, 1972.
As a national pastime and as a social institution, we in baseball have important social responsibilities that we gladly welcome. Roberto Clemente is the symbol of our social awareness, and our effort to give back to all the communities in which we play the game.
Vera, Roberto, Jr., Luis, I thank you all for being here tonight. Major League Baseball is proud of the great Roberto Clemente and his wonderful legacy. We will value and cherish his memory always.
This year's Roberto Clemente Award winner is Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. Not only is Albert one of the game's greatest hitters, he has done remarkable and valuable community work in St. Louis and in his home country, the Dominican Republic. Albert and his wife Deidre have a ten-year-old daughter Isabella, who has Down Syndrome, which led them to found the Pujols Family Foundation in 2005. Since then they have served more than 500 families affected by Down Syndrome in the greater St. Louis area, with programs and events that celebrate the lives of these special children and young adults.
Albert and Deidre also provide much needed support to underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic and support other organizations and causes of the Boys & Girls Club of America and the Ronald McDonald House.
Albert, I want to thank you for your wonderful work and your dedication for helping those in need. We are very proud of you. I want to thank Chevy, the sponsor of the Roberto Clemente award. Chevy will donate $30,000 and a new 2009 Chevy Traverse to the Pujols Family Foundation, as well as $30,000 to the Roberto Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico.
Albert, again, thank you, and congratulations on winning the Roberto Clemente award (applause.)
KARL RAVECH: Commissioner, thank you. We'll hear from Albert in just a second. We're privileged to be joined by three members of the Clemente family, Roberto and Luis who is here, and obviously his wife, Vera. It is time for Vera Clemente to say a few words.
VERA CLEMENTE: Good evening, I'm very happy and honored to be here, and especially to honor this hero, Albert Pujols, because he and his wife and their foundation they are doing so much for many, not only children, different people around the Dominican Republic and the States. I know they do everything with their hearts. And I am very honored to be here and to honor you with the Roberto Clemente Award. You deserve it. God bless you and your family always (applause.)
KARL RAVECH: Thank you, Vera. Chevy is the official vehicle of Major League Baseball. It's the sponsor of the Roberto Clemente Award. We're honored to have with us today Phil Caruso, the national promotions manager for Chevy, and I'd like to ask Phil to say a few words.
PHIL CARUSO: Thank you, Karl. Good evening, everyone. I'd like to first thank Major League Baseball and the Clemente family, to once again allowing Chevrolet to participate in this distinguished award. We are reaffirming Chevrolet to our shared values of community, family and heritage. Roberto Clemente's passion, his spirit, his goodwill, truly does better all of us. At Chevrolet we are committed to broaden the recognition of the award so that fans all over the world can really see the dedication that these great athletes put towards this. So on behalf of Chevrolet I'd like to congratulate Albert as this year's recipient of the award.
We are all aware of Albert's dedication and his performance on the field, but today we truly honor him for the difference he's making in the community of St. Louis with the Pujols Family Foundation. So as the Commissioner said, Chevrolet will donate $30,000 to the foundation, as well as a brand-new Chevrolet to the Pujols Family Foundation. And we will also donate $30,000 to the Roberto Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico, to help keep Roberto's dream alive.
Once again, congratulations, Albert. We wish you all the best on and off the field (applause.)
KARL RAVECH: Albert, why don't you share with the people here what it feels like to be the winner of the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award.
ALBERT PUJOLS: Well, a blessing and I'm really honored. First of all, I want to thank God to give me the opportunity to be here tonight and receive this award. I want to thank Major League Baseball and Chevy to be a part of this great award of Roberto Clemente. I want to thank my teammates, obviously, for the support that they give me during the year, every event that we do for Down Syndrome or golf tournament. The fans in St. Louis and all over the United States and the Dominican Republic for the support that they give to the Pujols Family Foundation. I want to thank the Roberto Clemente family. I'm truly honored to receive this award. It's an honor to be here tonight.
It takes a lot of hard work for the Pujols Family Foundation, but it comes from our heart. I thank God every day for the opportunity he gives me to be in the big leagues and just take advantage of every little opportunity. I remember as a little boy in the Dominican Republic all I want is to be in the big leagues. All I wanted was just to be a professional baseball player. I never thought this dream was going to come true and so quick in eight years.
So I'm truly honored and I want to receive this award, as Roberto Clemente, your husband. I'm honored to receive this award as your father, that he was. He was not only a great baseball player, everybody on this day remembers Roberto Clemente as a great baseball player, but we today remember him as a great man that loved other people and gave back to the community, whether in Pittsburgh or Nicaragua or Latin America or Puerto Rico, and I feel that's my responsibility, too, not just to be a baseball player, but to give back to others, whether in St. Louis or the United States or back in the Dominican Republic every year with our trip through the Pujols family foundation.
So there's some people in here, like my wife, Deidre, I want to thank her so much for her time. I want to thank Todd Perry, because these two people are the one that really work hard during the season, just as hard as I work in the field. So from the bottom of my heart I want to thank them.
Thank you so much for being here tonight and it's an honor to receive this award and I'm just really blessed that it happened this year. God bless you (applause.)
KARL RAVECH: Albert, gets it. Thank you very much. Very well said.
We're going to take some questions from the audience, as well, and there are two microphones out there. When a hand goes up, we'll ask.
I think I get the chance to ask the first question: How in the world did you do what you did this year on the field with an elbow that required surgery right after it?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Obviously I thank God every day. Obviously going to Spring Training there was a lot of talk I could miss all season. But I have faith in God, I went through a couple of tests, and I decided not to do Tommy John surgery, which I'm glad I didn't. Obviously after the season I ended up having surgery, two weeks after the season, to remove the nerve. And hopefully that will help me out for the future, because the doctor told me that 75 percent of the pain and the swelling that I have in my elbow was caused by the nerve. So obviously, hopefully, crossing my fingers in the future, I don't have to have the surgery.
Right now I'm trying to rehab and I'm doing the best that I can to get healthy and be 100 percent and hopefully be ready for Spring Training.
KARL RAVECH: Good news for Albert, bad news for pitchers. (Laughter.)

Q. Congratulations. We've watched you in St. Louis, we've watched you in other parts. One of the things you have in common with Roberto Clemente is that you love children. We watched you go to the opposing dugout side to sign autographs. We watched you in St. Louis stop your car on the street and sign autographs. In New York, one of the awards you picked up for the Latino MVP, you said, "It's nice to hit a home run, but it's better to see a child smile." Can you elaborate on that?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Well, obviously God put me in this situation and I want to take advantage every day. At the end of the day, when all is said and done playing this game, what I look at it, it doesn't matter what you did in the field, it's what you do off the field and the lives that you touch off the field. And I try to do that through our foundation. I try to do that when I go back to the Dominican Republic. I try to do that when I'm on the field because those kids, they look at us as a role model and we want to be a role model to those kids, because you never know. Like I was 15 years ago, a poor little boy in the Dominican Republic, my dream was just to be a professional baseball player. They might be somebody that day that you touch. And that person may become the best baseball player ever in the future. And probably in the future will thank me or any of us that touched their life.
So I want to make sure that when I'm in this game, obviously I serve God first and my family. And I know that I want to serve others, and that's where the foundation is for. The Pujols Family Foundation stands for faith, family and others, making sure we touch other lives, just like Roberto Clemente did.

Q. Albert, you've won a lot of individual awards, your team has won the World Series, where does winning this award rank with the stuff you've done on the field?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Obviously it's really special. It's really special to me, not just because Roberto Clemente was Latin, but just the lives that he touched. And just that legacy that he left behind for us to follow. I'm really blessed to be honored today with this award, just like the members that won this award in the past. It's not to give credit to myself, but to glorify God, first, and to make sure that we don't forget where we come from. And that's something that is always in my heart, always in my mind and that's something that I did first, before baseball, make sure I never forget where I come from.

Q. You could have the opportunity to win another award at some point very, very soon, the MVP. How do you handicap your chances of winning that particular award?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Obviously right now I don't want to talk about that award. I'll let that come next month. Right now I want to enjoy this great award that I won tonight. I don't want to lose the focus of this award tonight talking about other awards.
So right now I just want to enjoy this award. It's a great honor, and when that time comes hopefully we can talk about that.
KARL RAVECH: Where did this desire to give back come from? Where did you learn that?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Through my family. Obviously we were third middle class in the Dominican Republic. I would say I was never poor, because I always say if I have breakfast, lunch and dinner, I'm not poor, or if I have clothes.
It's something that comes from my family. They always have that great heart to give back to the community. I remember my dad, stop eating and just giving his food to feed other people. And me as a little boy growing up watching that, obviously, those are the good examples that you want to take with you. Obviously God blessed me to accomplish my dream, which is getting to the big leagues and that's why I started Pujols Family Foundation in 2005, I want to make sure that I give back to others.
And, you know, I don't want to take credit for what I do. I want you guys to give the credit to God, because he's the one that put me here. I can see lives changing every day through our foundation. And we can't do it that by myself. The city of St. Louis and the people here in the United States just opened the doors to help us out through our foundation, because we know that I can't do it all myself. I can't do it without God. I can't do it without our fans that support baseball.
So I'm really grateful and blessed to have those opportunities, those people are willing to have the same heart to give back and to change lives, like going back to the Dominican Republic and take the dentist trip. And this year we partner with Clarkson Eyecare, and we saw over 1,500 kids and we probably feed probably about 1,300 kids. You're talking about places that people don't have TV. You're talking about a place the police, nobody wants to go in, because they're so afraid. And the doctor, they were praying and being faithful to our foundation, saying we're going to go and we're going to those places because we know there's a need there.
You're talking about people if they wouldn't have the opportunity to see that doctor, maybe in two or three weeks they would have died with an infection in their teeth. We're really blessed to have that kind of team that's willing to support the foundation going down there.
But once again at the end of the day it just all goes to our fans. In St. Louis our fans are the best, to support our foundation and I can't thank them enough. So I think I'm going to continue to do that, as long as God wants me to keep doing it. And I want to keep touching all those people's lives, because at the end of the day it doesn't matter how many home runs I hit in the big leagues or how many awards I get, but at the end of the day making sure I serve God first and touch those lives and people that have needs.
KARL RAVECH: I've asked a lot of questions. That was the longest and best answer I've ever gotten from a baseball player (laughter.)
ALBERT PUJOLS: I'll work on that one.
KARL RAVECH: Let's invite the Commissioner to hand the trophy over to Albert, here, and the photographer to get a shot.

End of FastScripts

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