"The last two times I've been up here my two favorite players
of all-time have introduced me, Mr. Keith Hernandez and Mr. Cal
Ripken," Rodriguez told the crowd at the 83rd annual New York
baseball dinner. "To the New York fans, thank you very much for
making me feel very welcome."
The New York Yankees' third baseman, who also won the 2003 AL
MVP with Texas, then took a moment to congratulate manager Ozzie
Guillen and three other members of the World Series champion
Chicago White Sox who were seated with him on the dais.
"You guys showed the whole world from April 1 to the last game
of the season that you truly were the best team in baseball,"
An emotional El Duque received the "You Gotta Have Heart"
award from the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers'
Association of America, while Hemond was honored for his 54 years
of meritorious service in baseball.
"If Johnny Cash was the face of America, ladies and gentlemen,
then Roland Hemond is the face of baseball," said Mike Veeck, the
son of former White Sox owner Bill Veeck.
Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal proudly presented fellow
Dominican Bartolo Colon of the Los Angeles Angels with the AL Cy
Young Award, and former St. Louis ace Bob Gibson introduced two
winners from the Cardinals: Albert Pujols (NL MVP) and Chris
Carpenter (NL Cy Young).
"He walked 1.9 men per nine innings, that's pretty good,"
Gibson said, referring to Carpenter. "I used to average about
three or four -- I'd hit six or seven."
Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda presented Philadelphia slugger Ryan
Howard with his NL Rookie of the Year Award.
"I was a first baseman, he's a first baseman -- and we can
hit," Cepeda said. "I saw you play, and you're going to be
another Hall of Famer."
All-Star catcher Mike Piazza, who agreed to a deal with the San
Diego Padres earlier Sunday, won the "Toast of the Town" award,
though he didn't attend the dinner because it was his first wedding
Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd took home the "Good Guy" award,
while Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner -- forever linked by that
famous groundball in the 1986 World Series -- received the "Willie,
Mickey and The Duke" award.
Wilson, one of the most popular players in Mets history, spoke
at the podium about the former Boston first baseman.
"Billy and I are really good friends now and we see each other
quite a lot. He is a true friend and he is a true professional,"
Wilson said. "As great as that moment was for myself and New York
City, I don't think that defines Bill Buckner's life or career."