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10/22/2002 7:30 pm ET 
Jim Thome named winner of 2002 Roberto Clemente Award presented by John Hancock

Jim Thome of the Cleveland Indians has been named the winner of the 2002 Roberto Clemente Award presented by John Hancock, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today.

The Roberto Clemente Award is given each year to the Major League Baseball player who combines outstanding skills on the baseball field with devoted work in the community. At an on-field ceremony during the third game of the World Series, a $25,000 donation from John Hancock Financial Services will be made in Thome’s honor to the Steve Palermo Chapter of the National Paralysis Foundation in Leawood, KS. Jim has chosen to donate the money in the name of his nephew, Brandon Thome, who is battling a spinal cord injury and is currently unable to walk. John Hancock will also make a $30,000 contribution in Thome’s name to Roberto Clemente Sports City, a multi-purpose sports and education center in Puerto Rico.

"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I’m delighted to present the 2002 Roberto Clemente Award to Jim Thome for the outstanding contributions he has made to his team and the game," said Commissioner Selig. "This award, given in honor of the great Roberto Clemente recognizes a player who not only puts his time and energy into the game, but also works within his community. Jim’s support for the Steve Palermo Chapter of the National Paralysis Foundation and his involvement with community and team related issues make him an excellent choice for this award. I would also like to thank John Hancock Financial Services for its support of Major League Baseball and the Roberto Clemente Award."

"This is a tremendous honor, to be considered in the same class as Roberto Clemente," said Thome. "He is a hero and role model for all of us who play the game and strive to be as good a player and person as he was. I have never thought of my time in the community as work, but as my responsibility to spread my good fortune to those around me who are more deserving. I’ll cherish this award for the rest of my life."

While a member of the Cleveland Indians, Thome has been very involved in community efforts. For the past five seasons Thome and his wife Andrea have spent two days dressed as Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus, delivering toys collected at his annual holiday toy drive to numerous youth groups that serve disadvantaged kids. He has also served as honorary co-chairman of the United Way Softball Slam, which has helped to raise nearly $200,000 for United Way’s youth programs. Over the past six years, Thome has held charity events at the Children’s Hospital in his hometown of Peoria, Ill., supplying all the memorabilia for the charity auction. The events raised over $200,000 for the hospital’s support services and programs.

"John Hancock would like to congratulate Jim Thome for being named the 2002 Roberto Clemente Award winner," said David F. D’Alessandro, chairman and chief executive officer, John Hancock Financial Services. "Jim’s dedication both on and off the field truly embody the spirit of the award and the memory of Roberto Clemente."

Thome had an outstanding season culminating with a .304 batting average and achieving a club record 52 home runs. He played in 147 games, had 146 hits and led the Club with 101 runs scored and 118 RBIs. Thome was also selected during the season as the American League Player of the Week.

"On behalf of the Clemente family, congratulations to Jim Thome for being named to receive the 2002 Roberto Clemente Award," said Vera Clemente, wife of Clemente. "Jim has excelled both on and off the field this season. He has made such a commitment to the game and community on behalf of himself and the Cleveland Indians. We hope he continues his efforts in this fashion."

Since 1970, Major League Baseball has annually presented an award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team. In 1973, following Clemente’s tragic death, the award was named in his honor.

The winner of the 2002 Roberto Clemente Award presented by John Hancock, was selected by a panel of baseball dignitaries including Vera Clemente, wife of Clemente, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig and David D’Alessandro, chairman and chief executive officer of John Hancock Financial Services, from a group of 30 Major League Baseball club honorees.

A leader in sports marketing and a national sponsor of Major League Baseball, John Hancock Financial Services centers its marketing efforts -– including television advertising, public relations and community outreach activities around its sponsorships. These unique and powerful properties include an unprecedented five-year pact with Major League Baseball.

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