GARY THORNE: I want to welcome everyone to the announcement of the winners today of the 2012 Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes the most outstanding offensive performer in both the American and National Leagues. The winners are selected through a combination of fan vote on MLB.com and a panel of Hall of Famers, and that includes Hank, who is on that committee, along with Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Robin Yount.
This year is a very unique situation: For the first time in the history of the Hank Aaron Award, both winners are participating in the World Series, allowing them an opportunity not just to be here tonight but to be out on the field and performing tonight, and we are grateful for both of them who are taking the opportunity to do this with us on a game day.
Let me introduce you to the dais, of course, Miguel Cabrera whom we're going to hear from and see; the Commissioner Bud Selig; one of the game's all time and perhaps greatest home run hitter still, Hank Aaron. I would also like to recognize Billye Aaron who is seated with us, Hank's wife, who is always on board and always helping Hank.
I would like to introduce at this point the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Thank you, Gary, and good evening. Before we start this part of it, I want to congratulate Miguel on his magnificent year and winning the Triple Crown. Hard to believe it was 45 years since Carl Yastrzemski won it, and the year before our friend Frank Robinson. So it's a really moment us year, and congratulations.
MIGUEL CABRERA: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: This is the 14th year that MLB has paid tribute to the spectacular career of my friend Hank Aaron through the Hank Aaron Award. Hank is undeniably one of the greatest players ever to step on a baseball field. Fortunately I was able to witness many of the games that he played. But more than just talented, he has always acted with poise and class, both on and off the field.
He remains the quintessential representative of our game, and in fact, I have often thought he's really the soul of our sport. I'd like to extend special thanks to the group of Hall of Famers who agreed to join Hank and the fans in voting for this award. Their accomplishments at the plate throughout their career and participation in this process reinforces the prestige of this award.
I'd now like to formally announce the American League winner of the Hank Aaron Award. Not a great secret since he's sitting up here with me. Our fans on the Hall of Fame panel have selected Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. He's had a truly remarkable offensive season, winning the first Triple Crown, as I said before, since 1967. His milestone ended the longest gap between Triple Crowns in baseball history, and he now stands amongst an elite group of the game's legends.
In addition to leading the American League in batting average and home runs and RBI, he led the American League in total bases, extra base hits and slugging percentage. He won his second consecutive batting crown in 2012 to become the first Tiger to lead the league in hitting in consecutive seasons since Hall of Famer Ty Cobb did it for three straight seasons from 1917 to 1919, and actually I'm the only one here old enough to remember that. (Laughter).
So anyway, congratulations, Miguel, on an award that you richly deserve, and on behalf of baseball, you've brought great integrity and really, really great joy to so many people this year. Thank you.
HANK AARON: Thank you very much, Commissioner. First let me thank Major League Baseball for naming this award after me, number one. Second, I'd like to thank all of the Hall of Famers who took time out to vote for this magnificent ballplayer, Miguel.
You know, I was watching the Detroit Tigers play an exhibition game in Florida this past year when a bad hop came up and hit you in the eye, and I was holding my breath. I said, I hope nothing happens because I know what a tremendous asset you were to not only to the Detroit Tigers but also baseball, just being a baseball player. So I want to congratulate you for an outstanding season. It's not too many people who can have a Triple Crown. I happen to be friends with one down here, Mr. Robinson, but it is something that you are blessed with.
I look back over my career, and I say that was the one thing that I didn't do, but you did it, and you did it with grace, and I know the way that I've seen you play that they were not infield hits, they were legitimate hits. So I want to congratulate you for an outstanding season, and I want you to continue to have the poise that the Commissioner said and to continue your career. Congratulations from myself and from Major League Baseball.
MIGUEL CABRERA: Thank you very much.
I'm very nervous right now. But I want to thank you very much to give me this opportunity here. It's an honor here sitting with a Hall of Famer and the Commissioner. I'd like to thank you for this moment, thank God for giving me the opportunity for this, thank you for bringing me to Detroit, thank you, Mr. Robinson, to be here. I'm very proud, my biggest day here in baseball. I want to say thank you to the people in Detroit, to Mr. Ilitch to give me the opportunity and the chance to grow like a player, be here in the World Series, trying to play if God let me to play, give me the chance to be here, trying to go out there every game and do my job. Thank you very much.
GARY THORNE: We're going to let Miggy go here because we know he's got to get ready to play, and understandably that's number one on his mind. We apologize for not having time to allow for some questions right now, but obviously you can get Miggy after the game.
Obviously with both of the players preparing for the game, we have brought them in separately only for that reason, otherwise as in past years they would have been in together.
BUSTER POSEY: We're all friends.
GARY THORNE: Buster Posey, welcome, from the Giants. Commissioner?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Thank you, Gary. Well, for the National League our fans and the Hall of Fame panel, who's really a remarkable group of Hall of Famers, as Henry said, have selected Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants. Buster led all of Major League Baseball with the .336 batting average to become the first National League catcher to win the batting title since Ernie Lombardi of the Boston Braves in 1942. I was around then. He also led the Giants in home runs, runs batted in, doubles, walks, on base percentage and slugging. Really remarkable.
These significant accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider that Buster sustained a very serious injury last year and missed most of the season. So Buster, congratulations on a great year and winning this award.
BUSTER POSEY: Thank you.
HANK AARON: I also want to congratulate you, Buster, on a terrific season. One, I want to thank Major League Baseball for allowing me a chance to present this award to you.
You know, last year when you got hurt, everybody was saying, is he going to come back? And you came back not only winning the batting crown but I mean, hitting .300, but leading your team to the World Series. I want to congratulate you for all you do. It's not easy when you squat behind the plate for nine innings and then go out and hit.300. Congratulations, Buster. Really, I think you had an outstanding season, and I'm delighted to present you with this award. Thank you very much.
BUSTER POSEY: Wow, first of all, I'd like to thank the fans, the Hall of Fame panel, Mr. Aaron for voting for me. I'm just humbled that Hank Aaron knows who I am.
Growing up in Georgia, he's a legend everywhere but even more so there. You know, it's just humbling. It's a great honor, and thank you very much.
GARY THORNE: Thanks, everybody, and congratulations to Miggy and Buster on winning the award, and we thank all of you for attending. Thanks to Hank and the Commissioner for being here for this announcement. Hank, always great to have you in any ballpark at any time. Congratulations. (Applause).