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Hank Aaron Award presentation
10/27/2004 8:34 PM ET
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll try to get started here.

Tonight we're presenting the Hank Aaron Award.

Let me explain how this process happens, how it's voted on. This season each club nominates three players for the award. The club finalists were awarded by fan balloting. From the 30 club nominees six players were selected on MLB.com, and Century21.com the official website of Century 21 Real Estate Corporation.

As you see, Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez were the ones who won out. On the far right, representing Century 21 is Mr. Greenleaf. And you see Mr. Hank Aaron right here, and Commissioner Selig.

Commissioner Selig is going to talk about how the origin of how the Hank Aaron Award came about.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Good evening everybody. This is an award that was created in 1999 and honored the 23rd anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's record.

The Hank Aaron Award presented by Century 21 recognizes the best overall hitter in each league for a particular season. This award has special meaning for me. Hank and I have known each other since 1958 and we often kid each other, we really grew up together. And I have not only special feeling about Hank's on-the-field accomplishments, I'm partial, I saw him play his first game in Milwaukee, I saw him play his last name in Milwaukee and many, many in between.

So he is truly one of the great players in the history of the sport. But just as importantly I would say to you as a friend he's one of the nicest, most decent human beings I've ever known.

And so I would say to Barry and to Manny, they're being honored tonight for their accomplishments on the field, but in the name of a very, very special human being, Hank Aaron.

I want to thank Century 21 for your participation in this award. And we look forward to many years of a joint participation. Thank you.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Also, Mr. John Greenleaf, he's the senior vice-president of marketing for Century 21. We're going to have some remarks from him about this award.

JOHN GREENLEAF: Century 21 is honored to be here tonight to sponsor the Hank Aaron Award. Century 21 has a very long and healthy relationship with Major League Baseball, having sponsored the Home Run Derby for six years, now the Hank Aaron Award for two years.

Century 21 is the largest real estate company in America, with more than a hundred thousand real estate professionals, helping nearly a million people, buyers, sell houses over the course of the year. It was important for us to get as many fans involved in this process as we could.

In 2004 this is truly the fans' award, with fans selecting the winners, and we couldn't be more honored to have Manny and Barry as the winners of the Hank Aaron Award sponsored by Century 21 in 2004.

We look forward to building on our relationship with baseball and Mr. Aaron, to continue the sponsorship of this wonderful award to the two best hitters in baseball.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Before you hear the winners, we need to hear from the man who the award is named after.

Let me introduce Mr. Hank Aaron.

HANK AARON: Thank you very much. Let me thank Century 21, and also thank the Commissioner, Bud Selig, and Major League Baseball for tonight.

I guess the Commissioner said some things a moment ago that I'd like to expand on. I remember Bud, the Commissioner, as I called him many, many years ago, that we used to go to football games together, and he was a Green Bay Packer fan, and I was a Cleveland Brown fan. I don't know who won those bets.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: I think you know who won (laughter.)

HANK AARON: I've known the Commissioner and his family for a long, long time. And I'm very grateful for this award.

This evening when I left home I left home my little grand baby, she's about five years old and she asked me where I was going, and I told her I was going to give an award to great ball players that were playing the ballgame today, Manny Ramirez and also Barry. And she said "Please, tell Mr. Bonds, and Mr. Ramirez to give me their autograph, grand daddy, please, I want their autograph." So I have to leave with your autographs, please.

I am grateful because this award means an awful lot to me. And to have two of the greatest athletes in baseball to receive this award means even more.

I don't need to tell you what Barry means to the game of baseball and what he has done over the past few years, and I don't need to sit here and read Ramirez's record, we all know what these two guys have done. And I just want to say that I'm extremely proud to present this award to them, and to be in their company. So with that I'd like to say thanks Century, again, and I'd like to thank Major League Baseball and thanks Barry and Manny for being here to accept it. Thank you very much.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Now I want to bring the Commissioner back, so he can tell you about Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez, who's got a game shortly, so we'll move ahead quickly.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Obviously you know who the winners are: In the National League it's San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds.

In the season Bonds garnered 41 percent of the National League vote. He became only the third player in history to reach the 700 club, joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. It's amazing even to read, I don't mind telling you.

He led the let the National League in batting average .362; slugging percentage .812; OPS 1.422; on-base percentage .609; walks 232; intentional walks, 120; received more intentional passes than the combined total of any other club.

He's also amongst the league leaders in runs, second with 129; and home runs, fourth with 45. And breaking the all-time career walks record set by Rickey Henderson. An extraordinary career, congratulations Barry.

I'll do Manny, and then we'll turn it over. American League winner is Manny Ramirez. He garnered 36 percent of the overall American League vote. He won his first American League home run crown with 43 home runs; also led the American League in home run ratio in 13.2 at-bats; slugging percentage with .613 and OPS, 1.010.

The Red Sox outfielder also was among the leaders in extra-base hits, second with 87; RBI, tied second, one every 4.4 at-bats; third in RBI's with 130; total bases, fourth with 348 and average with runners in scoring position, seventh with .340.

This season he topped 30 home runs and 100 RBI for the ninth time in the last ten years, including each of the last six seasons.

I congratulate both of you on extraordinary seasons, and it's an honor and pleasure to have both of you here.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Commissioner, Barry, we'll start with you, the elder statesman, go ahead and share your thoughts.

BARRY BONDS: I'll say it in English, and Manny can translate in Spanish.

First of all I want to thank Century 21 for having this award for Hank Aaron. As being an African-American ballplayer, Hank Aaron was very vital for part of our lives as African-Americans. He is part of the history in the game of baseball. I am very honored to be here, very honored to be sitting next to who I feel is the greatest home run hitter of all times.

I'm very grateful to Bud Selig, Major League Baseball, in having the Hank Aaron Award and having Hank actually here to present the award to us players.

As a child you think about these opportunities and you dream about meeting these people, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, we didn't have an opportunity to -- and to be up here and to have this opportunity to have the man, himself, present a player like myself, and I know Manny is going to say the same thing, when we were little boys, playing in our backyards, and Little League and stuff saying "I hope one day in my lifetime to have the opportunity to meet Hank Aaron," but to have Hank Aaron actually give us this award is pretty wonderful to have.

And I want to thank Century 21 again, Major League Baseball and Bud Selig, and Hank you deserve this more than anybody else, and I'm honored to accept this award. Thanks.

MANNY RAMIREZ: What I want to say is I'm very proud to receive this award because Hank Aaron did such a great thing for this game.

And I'm proud to be here. I never thought I'd win this award. I'm proud to sit next to you. Thank you.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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