Donald Trump’s rough welcome at the hands of Washington Nationals fans at last month’s World Series gained widespread attention, but the players themselves – or the ones in attendance, at least – were rather more friendly during a visit to the White House on Monday.
During Trump’s visit to Nationals Park for Game 5 of the series, he was greeted with jeers and chants of “lock him up” by the home crowd. The Nationals went on to beat the Houston Astros in Game 7 last week to claim their first-ever World Series title, and received the customary invitation from the White House to celebrate.
One player, relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, said last week he would not attend due to the president’s “divisive rhetoric”. Ten of his teammates were absent on Monday, although they did not specify reasons for their absence.
One player who seemed to be happy to meet Trump on Monday was catcher Kurt Suzuki. When Trump invited him to speak, he donned a Make America Great Again cap.
“I didn’t know that was gonna happen,” Trump said.
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) November 4, 2019
First baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the team’s longest-serving player, presented Trump with a Nationals jersey and paid tribute to the president.
“What an unbelievable honor to be here,” Zimmerman said. “This is an incredible honor that I think all of us will never forget, and we’d also like to thank you for keeping everyone here safe in our country, and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.”
Trump referenced the impeachment inquiry currently hanging over the White House.
“America fell in love with Nats baseball,” he said. “They just fell in love with Nats baseball. That’s all they wanted to talk about. That and impeachment. I like Nats baseball much more.”
The players besides Doolittle who did not attend the ceremony were Anthony Rendon, Javy Guerra, Joe Ross, Wander Suero, Wilmer Difo, Michael A Taylor, Victor Robles, Roenis Elías, Raudy Read and Tres Barrera. Apart from Doolittle, all the players who stayed away are either Latino or African American.
A number of teams and players have boycotted the White House visit since Trump became president. Alex Cora, the manager of last year’s champion Boston Red Sox, stayed away after saying he was unhappy at the president’s handling of Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico in September 2017.
“I have continually used my voice so that we Puerto Ricans are not forgotten and my absence is not different. Therefore, at this moment, I do not feel comfortable celebrating in the White House,” Cora said at the time.
The NBA’s Golden State Warriors did not attend the White House after title victories in 2017 and 2018. After the latter victory, the Warriors chose to meet former President Barack Obama instead.
Trump was in attendance at a UFC event in New York on Saturday night. He was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers.
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