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Baseball Writers Honor the Iron Man, Mr. Padre for a Job Well Done


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. This week on our show:

Getting ready for the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A  question from Nigeria about the Sears Tower in Chicago ...

And a report on how "tweens" are helping to drive sales in the pop music industry.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Last week, the Baseball Writers' Association of America elected Cal Ripken Junior and Tony Gwynn to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Their careers were unusual in Major League baseball today.  Barbara Klein explains why.

Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Junior played all their years in the major leagues with just one team.

Cal Ripken played for the Baltimore Orioles from nineteen eighty-one to two thousand one.  He played shortstop for most of his career and later moved to third base.

He played in nineteen All-Star Games and was named the most valuable player in two of them.  Also, he was the American League's most valuable player in nineteen eighty-three when Baltimore won the World Series.

But baseball history may best remember him for playing two thousand six hundred thirty-two consecutive games.  The city of Baltimore celebrated in nineteen ninety-five when he broke the record set by Lou Gehrig for not missing any games.  That record had stood for fifty-six years.  Cal Ripken Junior became known as the "Iron Man" of baseball.

Tony Gwynn has a nickname too: "Mr. Padre."  He played for the San Diego Padres from nineteen eighty-two until two thousand one.  His hitting earned him the twentieth highest batting average in the major leagues.  He won eight National League batting championships.  But he also won five Golden Glove awards for his fielding.  Tony Gwynn played in fifteen All-Star Games and two World Series.

Both new Hall of Famers are still active in the sport.  Cal Ripken owns minor league teams and supervises a baseball league for young people.  And Tony Gwynn is the baseball coach at San Diego State University.

They were the only candidates on the two thousand seven Hall of Fame ballot to receive the required seventy-five percent of the votes.

Five hundred forty-five members of the American Baseball Writers' Association voted.  All but eight of them voted for Cal Ripken.  He received five hundred thirty-seven votes.  Tony Gwynn received five hundred thirty-two.

They will be honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, at ceremonies on July twenty-ninth.

Sears Tower

Our listener question this week comes from Abdul Qadir Usman of Gombe, Nigeria.  He wants to know more about the Sears Tower.

The Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, is the tallest office building in the United States.  It was built between nineteen seventy and nineteen seventy-four.  For more than twenty years, it was the tallest building in the world.

The tower rises more than four hundred forty meters -- five hundred ten if you add the two broadcasting towers on top.  Either way, it stands as a tall, dark presence over the area of Chicago known as the Loop.

The facing material is black aluminum.  The windows are bronze colored glass.  The building has one hundred ten floors.

Architect Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the tower for Sears, Roebuck and Company.  The company later moved its main offices to the greater Chicago area.

Sears, Roebuck was once the nation's leading operator of department stores and a mail-order business.  Its competitor Kmart bought the company in two thousand five.

Most of the Sears Tower is office space.  But people also live in apartments and there are stores and restaurants.

The building has an observation area called the Skydeck.  On cloudy days, people on the street cannot even see all the way to the top of the Sears Tower.  But on clear days, visitors to the Skydeck can see three other states -- Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Explanations of the sights appear in English, Spanish, Polish, French, Japanese and German.  And there are windows placed low, at eye level for children.

People also can see local sights like the Millennium Park and the shining white Wrigley Building along the Chicago River.  They can watch the ships on Lake Michigan.  And, in the summer, they can follow the little dots that really are people swimming, or sailing in boats with colorful sails.

Tween Music

Some of the biggest buyers in today's music world are not very big at all.  They are children between the ages of eight and twelve -- between early childhood and the teen years.  Marketers call them "tweens." Faith Lapidus has our story.

Lately, record companies have been finding it harder to sell albums to adults.  At the same time, online music stores and free sharing services on the Web have brought changes to the industry.

To increase their sales, record companies have been looking more and more at the tween market.

"Hannah Montana" is the name of a popular Disney television series.  The show is about a high school student who has a secret life as a pop star named Hannah Montana.

The young actress is Miley Cyrus.  Her father is country music star Billy Ray Cyrus, who also appears on the show.

Since its release the "Hannah Montana" soundtrack CD has outsold the albums of many established performers.  In its first two months it sold more than a million and a half copies with songs like this one, called "If We Were a Movie."

Also popular with tweens is the story of a musical group called "The Cheetah Girls."  What began as a series of books has grown into two movies.

The actresses in the movies play colorfully dressed performers who sing and dance.  They are now performing their music live all over the country.  Here they are with "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)."

It might not surprise you that the top-selling album in the United States last year was for young people.  The market research company Nielsen SoundScan says the top seller was the soundtrack to the Disney television movie "High School Musical."

This is the story of two students who decide to try out for singing parts in a high school play.  By following their dream, they set an example for others.  The album has sold millions of copies all over the world -- there is even a version in Hindi.

From "High School Musical," we leave you with a song called "We're All in This Together."

I'm Doug Johnson.  I hope you enjoyed our program today.  It was written by Nancy Steinbach and Jerilyn Watson.  Caty Weaver was our producer.  MP3 files and transcripts of our shows are at voaspecialenglish.com.

And we hope you can join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


"American Mosaic" in VOA Special English
www.manythings.org/voa/america

Source: Baseball Writers Honor the Iron Man, Mr. Padre for a Job Well Done
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