Hank Aaron Award presentation transcript

Hank Aaron Award presentation transcript

BRIAN KENNY: Good evening, everybody. Thanks for coming in, nice and warm and dry. So I figured we'd have a good gathering here today. One thing this World Series has, I think, particularly illustrated is the history of baseball and the importance of the history of baseball and connecting generations, whether in Cleveland or Chicago, and here on the dais you can see generations of greatness. So it's a special time.

We are here to announce the winners of the 2016 Hank Aaron Awards, which goes to the player who is the most outstanding offensive player from his league. The winners were selected through a combination of a fan vote on MLB.com and Twitter, in addition to a panel of Hall of Famers, which include the award's namesake, Hank Aaron, along with Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray, and Robin Yount.

So, you can see the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred is here, so is the all-time great home run king, Hank Aaron, and I'll let the Commissioner, Rob Manfred, do the rest of our introductions.

COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Thank you, Brian. This is the 18th year that Major League Baseball has given the outstanding offensive player in each league the Henry Aaron Award. And we do that to honor two of our great players, one on each end here today. But we also do it as a tribute to Hank Aaron, and it's important to remember that. I look forward to Game 2 of the World Series each year, because Hank is religious about being here with us, which we really appreciate. He's a great gentleman. He's a great ambassador for our game, and he's one of our greatest players, so I really appreciate him being here with us tonight.

I'd like to thank Hank for his participation in the award. I'd also like the Hall of Famers who work along with Hank to select our winners each year and to the fans who participate on MLB.com and via Twitter. So let me get to it.

We have one award winner this year who has other business this evening: Kris Bryant is the National League winner of the Hank Aaron Award. Congratulations to you, Kris.

Kris followed up an amazing rookie year last year with a wonderful performance in 2016. He had 39 home runs, 102 RBIs, and led the league with 122 runs scored. Most important, he helped power the Cubs here to the World Series. And congratulations to you.

Kris is part of a great generation of young players that we count on to carry our game into the next decade. So, Kris, congratulations on your first Hank Aaron Award.

KRIS BRYANT: Thank you. I appreciate it. I want to thank all the fans and everyone who supported me for this award. It's truly an honor to be up here with two of the best baseball players to ever play this game. I grew up watching Big Papi on the Red Sox get to this point and win a World Series, and hopefully I can do that here. To accept an award with one of the best baseball players ever with your name on it is a true honor for me, so thank you.

HANK AARON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Thanks, Kris. The American League announcement is going to be really popular in a small New England city and in the Dominican Republic. David Ortiz is now a two-time Hank Aaron Award winner. He finished his 20-year career in amazing style. His 38 home runs and 127 RBI were records for a player over the age of 40. He led all of Major League Baseball in slugging percentage, OPS, and doubles with 48. In addition to two Hank Aaron awards, David's been the World Series MVP, the American League Championship Series MVP, he's a ten-time All-Star, and maybe most important, a Roberto Clemente Award winner as well for all of the great work that he's done off the field. I'd really like to offer my personal congratulations to David on today's award, and on a great 20-year career.

DAVID ORTIZ: Thank you very much. Thank you to the fans for voting me for this unbelievable award. I was just talking to Mr. Hank Aaron, a person that I have so much respect for him, one of the greatest of all time, about how much this award means to me. That baby boy over there at the end of the table, man. Now it's my turn to sit down and watch you doing your thing. So much fun watching you out there, carrying the team on your back. That's part of greatness, and that's part of what this game is all about. Looking forward to enjoying plenty of years watching you play the game. Good luck tonight, also.

KRIS BRYANT: Thank you.

DAVID ORTIZ: I think it's an honor to be part of this unbelievable award. I have received a lot of different awards in my career, but the Hank Aaron Award that I have in my house is the one that I kind of look at every day. The way it looks just to begin with is something that to me is very special. Every time I get to the plate, it's something that means a lot to me. Like I say, it's an honor. Thank you very much.

BRIAN KENNY: We'll have questions for everybody. But Kris is getting toward game time. So do we have questions for Kris? We'll let him go in a moment. Any questions for Kris Bryant?

Q. What does it mean to you just to be part of really a symbolic transfer of power with David going out like this and you coming into the game?

KRIS BRYANT: Yeah, it's so surreal to me. I don't know if this -- I've been through some pretty cool things recently, but this is something I'm going to have to pinch myself. Obviously David Ortiz had an unbelievable career, and he's going out and I'm just making my way in. Obviously one of the best baseball players that ever lived sitting next to me. This is such a surreal moment for me.

BRIAN KENNY: Thank you so much. Thank you, Kris. Good luck. Hank, while we have a chance, if you could please tell us, again, to see David Ortiz here and your thoughts on David and Kris, and again them winning the awards that bear your name.

HANK AARON: Well, you'll notice I was hopping when I came in, and that's because my wife told me if I had hit one more home run, I wouldn't be doing this. But I'm happy to be here, especially to be here with two of the outstanding ballplayers that we have in both the American League and National League. You know, David and I go back a long ways, of course. But before I get to David, I'd like to say, Kris, I watched him all year. And I must say without any pun intended, that the Cubs is my favorite, of course. And the reason for that, I don't want anybody to walk out of here and say, Hank Aaron pulled -- but the reason for that is because my friend who is no longer here, Mr. Ernie Banks. He was an idol of mine. I loved him, and I'm sure wherever he is today, he is smiling in his grave. I just want to say that I am smiling with him. I just wish that he could be here to play one more game, as he always said. But anyhow, the Cubs are a good ballclub. And the Cleveland Indians are a good ballclub. I remember a long time ago, I used to come here to this ballpark, and I was telling Alan, I came here and I watched the old Cleveland Browns play in what they called the gas hopper CHK. The game at the end of the runway there, as I was sitting there disguising myself to watch the Cleveland Browns play in a football game. But I want to congratulate, Commissioner. I want to congratulate David. Last time I saw David I believe we were in -- where were we, David? In the Bahamas, wasn't it?

DAVID ORTIZ: Yeah, should I tell the story about what happened? So, Mr. Hank came to me, and he was like, he had a baseball. I was vacationing with the family in the Bahamas. He came to me like, "Hey, can you please sign this ball for my grandson?" You know, like I always have people come and ask me for autographs, and some of the people I just, "Okay, yeah, that's fine." But while I'm signing it, I'm looking at him and I'm like, "Why don't you sign one for me?" (Laughter).

HANK AARON: But that was the last time I saw him. I just want to take this time out to congratulate him on an outstanding career. Not only just last year, but his whole career he's been one that's carried the game and played the game the way all of us idolize most our athletes. And he has been one that he walked out on the field, and he is all business, either hit or don't hit. But he is all business. I just want to congratulate him, because for many years he has carried himself in the way that I tried to carry myself in the 23 years that I played baseball. But Commissioner, I just want to thank you for taking time out to be here for this award, and, again, I'd just like to thank all of the Hall of Famers, really, that took time out to vote for these outstanding ballplayers and let people know that we are still part of the game. Again, let me thank all of you who voted, all of you who participate in this voting. And I just want to say that we are hoping that we can be back here next year. Thank you very much.

BRIAN KENNY: Thank you, Hank. Any questions David, for Hank, for the Commissioner?

Q. Mr. Aaron, a question for you: As you're watching some of these great young players in the game right now, there is so much young talent here, what do you think about the state of baseball as we're watching it right now?

HANK AARON: I think the state of baseball is in good hands. I think all these young kids. Somebody asked me the other day, said -- let me tell you a story. I was talking to Willie Mays about three weeks ago. I told Willie, I said, "Willie, you and I would probably be in the Minor Leagues compared to these guys." I said, "Hell, we couldn't keep up with them the way they're playing." But, no, it tickles me. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel good when I can see these kids, the pitchers, the infielders. I saw a kid the other day and I can't remember whether he was playing -- I believe he was with the Cubs. Made a play at second base against the Dodgers, and the only person I think that could have made that play was Red Schoendienst with the Cardinals. I think the game is in good shape. I think these kids are playing well. The game is in good hands, and it's -- I can stay up at night and watch them play all night long, really. I really enjoy them. So that's how I feel about them.

BRIAN KENNY: We talked a lot about that play on the Network. But that's a perspective I haven't heard. You go back a few years and you get Red Schoendienst, thanks.

Q. What does it mean to be in a ballpark where Larry Doby's name is enshrined up on the wall here, where he's in the Hall of Fame? Obviously of great, historical import, Hank, for you. He was just a few years before you broke in. And David, same question, what does it mean to be in the same place where Larry Doby's name is immortalized on the wall?

HANK AARON: You can go, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Well, Larry Doby is probably an underappreciated and overly significant part of our history. Because of Jackie Robinson being first, there is correctly tremendous attention paid to him, but Larry was equally a part of changing the game of baseball, integrating our game, and bringing us into an era that resulted in the quality of play on the field being escalated. It is a part of our history that we are constantly aware of as we try to make sure that baseball fulfills its obligations on the social side of the ledger.

HANK AARON: Well, I played with Larry for about three or four years, and we barnstormed through the South, many, many years. I got to know him pretty well. I know how well he loved Cleveland, this city, and he always talked about he and Satchel Paige when they played here. So I have a feeling, I just have this feeling that somewhere along the line he is smiling in his grave. Larry, I got to know pretty well.

DAVID ORTIZ: In my case, it always has been an honor when I walk into the stadium, to this stadium, and I see his name on the wall. It's something that's always going to impact me because of the history of the game, the way everything used to be back in the day. How those guys opened up a lot of doors for blacks and Latinos in the game, and look at where we are right now. So it's always going to be an honor.

Q. David, has it hit you yet that you don't have another season to prepare for? Is it at all bittersweet to be back here in Cleveland where your season ended against this team?

DAVID ORTIZ: Well, yes, as I was walking into the stadium I was like, wait a minute. I was here a couple of weeks ago (laughter). You know, when I was on my way out, the last game we played here, I was wondering when was going to be the next time I was going to be back in Cleveland, also. So, not yet, not yet. Not going to be able to play another season hasn't hit me yet. It starts hitting you once generally January shows up and you start getting prepared and getting ready for Spring Training and all that stuff. But I'm good, you know. I think I'm more busy now than what I used to be. It's crazy.

HANK AARON: If I can say something about that, David. You and I, my career, what were you, 20 years?

DAVID ORTIZ: Yeah.

HANK AARON: And I'm 23. And we were right there together. So I know what it means when you play that long and had the kind of career that you had, the way that you had it, you can walk on the field and feel proud of yourself.

DAVID ORTIZ: Thank you very much.

HANK AARON: You can feel proud of yourself, because you did it, and you did it right.

DAVID ORTIZ: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Q. (Question in Spanish).

DAVID ORTIZ: (Answer in Spanish) Can you translate that? (Laughter).

BRIAN KENNY: No.

Q. David, you've got a lot of former teammates in both clubhouses, former manager, former general manager. What's it like for you when you watch this World Series, and do you have a particular rooting interest?

DAVID ORTIZ: Man, I'm on the spot right now, let me tell you. I'm watching the team, and I'm like, I was watching the game the other day, last night, with my son and family. And he seen me jumping from both sides. He's like, "Dad, really, what you want?" I'm like, "Man, you know I've got friends on both sides." But I think this World Series is already a major win for all of us. It doesn't matter who ends up winning. And it's because both organizations have plenty of years waiting to win a World Series. I was watching that show that MLB put together the other day about a lot of fans the age of 90s, 80-something, you know, just praying to God to win a World Series from both sides. It was something that kind of hit me really big time. And it was because in Boston we had that 86-year hope, and once that hit home I realized how important that was for a lot of family members and people that are still around and people that already passed away. It was like a game changer. So I'm pretty sure that any organization that ends up winning this World Series, we're all going to enjoy it. It's going to have a major impact.

Q. Commissioner, and I'd be curious, Mr. Aaron and David your thoughts as well. Commissioner, is Major League Baseball okay with the Chief Wahoo logo? And Mr. Aaron and David, what is your opinion on the Chief Wahoo logo?

COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Let me say this, I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why. Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team's history. So it's not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment. I've talked to Mr. Dolan about this issue. We've agreed away from the World Series at an appropriate time we will have a conversation about this. I want to understand fully what his view is, and we'll go from there. At this point in this context, I'm just not prepared to say more.

BRIAN KENNY: We're going to go out on the field. And I just want to say for all of us who work in the business but have the baseball fan still inside of us, Hank, it's such an honor to see you and a thrill to see you out here today. And it's terrific you're able to travel out here and be a part of this. Commissioner, we'll let you now go with this group that will stop traffic every step along the way. Congratulations Dave, Kris Bryant, Hank, Commissioner, everybody. Thank you.