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2004 Clemente Award presentation10/26/2004 8:36 PM ET
HAROLD REYNOLDS: My name is Harold Reynolds. I am from ESPN. I was the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award in 1991. Tonight we are here to honor Roberto Clemente in presenting this year's winner, who is Edgar Martinez from the Seattle Mariners.
Let me introduce our esteemed panel up here. To my right here is Carol Fulp. She is with John Hancock, she is the vice-president of community relations there, and she is going to speak in a minute.
No introduction to the gentleman next to her, Commissioner Bud Selig. Edgar Martinez in the middle and Roberto Clemente Jr.;. Also Roberto's other son Luis is here, and their mother Vera is not here today. Edgar's wife Holli and his son Alex. Those are the people that are going to participate in this event we have right now.
First I want to turn it over to the Commissioner. Mr. Selig, go ahead.
BUD SELIG: Thank you, Harold. And good evening everybody. I was trying to do a little rain dance, to make sure the rain stops. I've had many years ago of doing that, as a few of you know. Hopefully we will start on time tonight.
The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually in Roberto's honor to the baseball player who combines outstanding skills on the baseball field and dedicated work in the community. Roberto Clemente's passion for the game of baseball, and his commitment in making a difference in the lives of those in need, transcend time and continue to have an impact to this day. This year's winner is Edgar Martinez. I congratulate him for his outstanding and record-setting baseball career, but frankly more importantly for the support both he and his wife, Holli, have provided to the Seattle community.
Edgar and Holli have given back in numerous ways throughout the years, contributing countless hours, funds and resources to charitable organizations and programs that have had a positive impact on children and families throughout the Pacific Northwest. Since 2001 much of Edgar and Holli's efforts have been devoted to the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. The couple has been instrumental in helping raise funds and awareness for muscular dystrophy.
In recognition of his community service and selection as a 2004 Roberto Clemente Award recipient, Edgar will receive a $25,000 donation from John Hancock financial services, which will be given to the charity of his choice, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. John Hancock will also make a $30,000 contribution in Edgar Martinez's name to the Roberto Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico.
I'd like to thank John Hancock Financial Services for its continued support of Major League Baseball and the Roberto Clemente Award, and these extremely generous and charitable donations. And I'd also like to thank the Clementes, Luis and Roberto, Jr., for their continued support in the great legacy of their father. And I'd like to close, on the last Saturday night of the season I was in Seattle when Edgar and his wife, Holli, were honored, and I've been in this sport for almost 40 years and I don't think I've ever seen a night where there was more love and affection shown to a player. And it was obvious to me that as great a player as Edgar Martinez has been on the field, he's been a greater human being off the field.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Thank you, Commissioner.
Next to Edgar's right is Roberto Clemente Jr. Roberto is 39, his father was 38 when he passed away. He was on a humanitarian trip to take goods to Nicaragua when his plane went down. This Dec. 31 Roberto Jr. is going to complete that trip. He's going back to Nicaragua. It's called Flight For Freedom. He's going to go back and complete his dad's mission. I'm going to turn it over to him.
ROBERTO CLEMENTE JR.: Thank you, Harold. Well, mom wanted to be here today. She cannot be happier to actually have the first Puerto Rican to win the Roberto Clemente Award, Edgar Martinez. That's something she misses, and she'll be talking to you soon, Edgar.
We are honored that Edgar Martinez is winning this award, and thanking John Hancock to give us the opportunity to give this award out to people like Edgar Martinez.
And people have always asked me what player reminds me of my father. There are a couple of players that remind me of my father on the field, but off the field I always close with the comment that as a person there's no one as classy as a humanitarian as Edgar Martinez. It's a pleasure for me to be here today giving this award to Edgar Martinez. Thank you.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: And now to present the trophy, you see that big trophy there, when I won the trophy it was a baseball this big, now it looks like the Heisman, and that's because of the help of John Hancock. They took over this trophy and are the exclusive sponsor of this since 2000. It's been incredible the events and money that they have done to take this program to another level. And I want to introduce Carol Fulp. She's the vice-president of community relations at John Hancock. So here are some words from Carol.
CAROL FULP: Thank you, Harold, and Commissioner and also my good friend, Roberto, and a special thank you to you, Edgar Martinez.
It is a pleasure to be the presenting sponsor for the Roberto Clemente Award. And this award and this year means so very much. Edgar's work along with Holli's assistance has been so deep in the city of Seattle and we really could not think of a better awardee this year. And that's why we literally stepped up to the plate to give to Edgar's nonprofit of choice, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.
In addition, we really do want to continue the legacy of Roberto Clemente. It was he who wanted to insure children in Puerto Rico had a safe and nurturing environment to go and play sports. So we had the opportunity to commit $30,000 to the Roberto Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico, and that means so much to us.
But it is really the partnership with Major League Baseball that is incredibly tremendous, from Commissioner Selig to Bob Dupuy to all the wonderful people in Major League Baseball that partner with us across the country, ensuring that so many inner-city kids have the opportunity to participate in Roberto Clemente Life Skills Workshops. That really is deep work for us.
So Edgar, I want to welcome you to the Roberto Clemente family. It's a wonderful partnership, it's a wonderful privilege and we couldn't think of a better person deserving of the Roberto Clemente Award. Congratulations, Edgar.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: In 1986 I was a member of the Seattle Mariners, and we had this skinny, scrawny kid, third baseman coming up from the minor leagues, and his name was Edgar Martinez, and he had a little bit of power, not much, but that changed. He hit a lot of home runs. But the thing I think back about Edgar's playing ability, the Roberto Clemente Award represents baseball on and off the field. And it was on-the-field accomplishments.
Most of you know him as a designated-hitter, but I got to know him as a third baseman, and had he not had injuries, he would be rewriting the books as a third baseman. But he became a designated hitter. The thing that stands out in my mind through the years, he never changed as a person. He always worked hard, he was always dedicated to what he did. He always loved people. And he was always very approachable. That hasn't changed with fame. He's still that same guy every day.
Commissioner Selig was talking about the reception he received in Seattle with him retiring this season and they honored him this weekend, as a former player, I felt there was nobody more deserving than Edgar. He is the face of the Mariners. And it's been exciting to watch him grow, but more exciting to see him carry that mantle with respect and with dignity and with pride. And Edgar, I'm excited and proud of you and I'm happy for the career you had, and this accomplishment, the Roberto Clemente Award, is the biggest achievement you could ever achieve. So in my mind there's no other way for baseball to honor you than the Roberto Clemente Award. To vote on this and to have you receive this was a no-brainer. Edgar Martinez, from the Seattle Mariners, let's hear from him.
EDGAR MARTINEZ: Thank you. Good evening. Thank you, Harold, for the wonderful words. To Ms. Fulp, thank you, and also thank you for the donation, to the parent project. To Mr. Selig for also being here and those kind words. And also I want to take the opportunity for thank you for the DH award that was given to me that Saturday night in Seattle. I was especially honored by that award.
To the Clemente family, to Mrs. Vera, that's not here, I hope that everything is OK at home. And to Luis and Roberto Clemente Jr., also, thank you. To me it's an honor to receive this award and I will treasure this, and just by looking at this award it just brings so many memories and it means a lot to me.
When I started playing baseball, I think it happens because I was watching the World Series where Clemente played in 1971, I believe, and after that Series, I went outside in my house and I started playing in the yard, backyard, and I was hooked on baseball after that.
And it's very special to me that now that I retire, my last award is Roberto Clemente Award. That's how things happen in life sometimes. But I started my career looking at Roberto, and right now I'm getting this award. It means a lot to me. I want to thank everyone here and especially to the Clemente family.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: We're going to give Edgar one minute to respond in Spanish what the award means, and we're going to have the commissioner, and Carol and Edgar take pictures.
Now we have the Q & A portion. Let's take some questions for Edgar.
Q. Edgar, could you say what it means to you to be the first Puerto Rican to win this award?
EDGAR MARTINEZ: It means a lot. I think it surprised me at the beginning when I heard that I was the first one, because I know that there are players in Puerto Rico, where they are also involved in the community, and they like to help the community. But it means a lot.
Clemente was my idol as a child, and being able to get this award is very special to me.
Q. Roberto, could you answer the same question about the Clemente family's feeling about him being the first Puerto Rican to win the award?
ROBERTO CLEMENTE JR.: It shows how tough it is to actually win the award, that's how I see it. There are so many players doing so much in the community. But for Edgar to be the first one, it is very special for us. The work of Edgar throughout the year since I've met him, what he has done and what he and Holli have done in their community has been wonderful, but as a person, I truly believe that he's the right guy to be the first?
Q. Were there any mannerisms or things that Roberto Clemente did on or off the field that you kind of copied?
EDGAR MARTINEZ: Roberto was very unique in playing the game. I didn't see him play in person, but I watched many of his highlights and he was a very unique player. It would be really hard to imitate Roberto Clemente. His style of fielding was very complicated for me to try it. But he was the best. He was the best Latin player and one of the best in baseball history. And his humanitarian efforts were something that I never knew personally, but I heard many things he did. It was an example at the time, and still today he is an example for younger players, and still today for me.
Q. I think the Mariners might lead the league in Clemente awards. What is it about the city or the organization that might have an impact on the Mariners?
EDGAR MARTINEZ: I think the organization works really hard to facilitate the players to get involved in the community, and the players also care about the community and as a group sometimes with teams you get players that do that. And for the last few years we have teams that care about the community. It's a great place to play. The community is just a great community.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Congratulations to Edgar Martinez once again.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.