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07/10/06 11:23 PM ET

Howard press conference transcript

Home Run Derby winner discusses strategy

BRAD HORN: Welcome to the Century 21 Home Run Derby sweepstakes winner press conference. Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies joined by James and Billy Sparks of Irving, Kentucky earn $250,000 towards the purchase of a new home, and John Greenleaf, vice president of marketing for Century 21. We'll open the floor for questions at this time.

Q. Ryan, earlier today you said that you had talked to Bobby Abreau, last year's champion, and got some tips about how to approach tonight, but you were not going to share those at that time, unless you won now. But you have won. What were some of those tips?

RYAN HOWARD: Well, basically he just told me to pretend that no one else was out there; that it was just Ramon and myself, and just to get locked in that way. Just to take pitches and try not to tire yourself out too early.

Q. Considering you were in a hundred trade rumors including a couple with the Pirates a few years ago, would you like to maybe call this ballpark home with the way you hit it tonight?

HOWARD: I don't know about all that. It was fun for me, the trade rumors and all that stuff is behind me. I'm glad to be here, and I'm having fun. I'm loving it.

Q. Are you tired?

HOWARD: Yeah, that's probably an understatement right now. (Laughing).

Q. On the last home run, you hit that sign; were you trying to hit that sign?

HOWARD: No. You know what, actually I didn't even know that it hit the sign. I walked off. But I heard that it hit the sign, and that's great that somebody got 500 flights.

Q. You joined a long list of excellent hitters. How does that feel?

HOWARD: You know, it's an honor for me just to be mentioned in the same breath, in the same page as some of the guys that have won this before. You know, it's kind of surreal and I don't think it's going to hit me until tomorrow.

Q. You said earlier today that you were not planning on swinging for the river. Did anything change?

HOWARD: No. I was just trying to take some good hacks and it wound up there. It just wanted to go in the river so, I didn't have a problem with it. (Laughter.)

Q. Ramon said earlier because 18 of your 20 home runs this year are in left field, how much do you have to change your game and adjust to take advantage of right field there?

HOWARD: I really didn't have to do a whole lot. It was really Ramon. He put it pretty much middle in to where I could try to hit it to center to right center. Some of them I just kind of got out in front of and was able to hit.

Q. When you are down pretty much to your last out and you're still three swings short, what's going through your mind at that point?

HOWARD: I just wanted to stay relaxed. I knew I was down to my last out. Pretty much just make sure it was the perfect pitch. You're down to your last out. It's got to be perfect.

Q. How do you like the new format with the home runs from the first round carrying over to the second round and how did that change your approach to the first round?

HOWARD: I liked it because I think it allows you to kind of format a strategy, if you will. And it also allows you to have one good round and one bad round and not necessarily be punished for that bad round.

Q. Did you say earlier today that you had only tried to hit home runs in batting practices in Southwest Missouri State?

HOWARD: That is true. Everybody from my school, and they all know who they are, that's all we did in BP was just hit home runs in batting practice.

Q. The AL East, a young guy like you, second year player, you and Wright, the last two guys left?

HOWARD: It was fun for me because we came up together in the Minor Leagues and just both being young guys in the finals, I think it was definitely exciting for both of us. So, I mean, it was a lot of fun.

Q. James, I heard that you are actually homeless right now. With this 250,000 where are you going to buy your home and when are you going to buy it?

JAMES SPARKS: Well, we're living with my parents so we have a roof over our heads. We actually sold our house using Century 21 and we were going to wait a couple years to move into a bigger house. So it looks like we're going to be moving up pretty soon. (Smiling) And that will be in Irving, Kentucky.

Q. Could you talk about the gold home run balls, you accounted for 126,000 yourself; what does that mean for the big picture?

HOWARD: You know, in the big picture, it's huge, raising money. I don't know, I just kind of got locked in when it was that last out trying to get that perfect pitch. Being able to raise that money I think is the bigger picture here.

Q. Do you think you were a long shot going in to win this thing?

HOWARD: To myself, yeah. I knew going that I was just going to have fun with it and just kind of take it from there.

HORN: That will conclude the interview portion for the evening. Again, winners of a quarter million dollars towards the purchase of a new home. Thank you.

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