Astros celebrate championship at White House
WASHINGTON -- Calling their World Series win over the Dodgers "a victory for the ages," President Donald Trump praised the Astros for being champions on and off the field while welcoming them to the White House on Monday.
During a 15-minute ceremony in the East Room, Trump lauded the Astros' toughness -- especially for beating his Yankees in the American League Championship Series -- and praised the team for lifting the city of Houston in the days following the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Astros outfielder Josh Reddick presented Trump with a No. 17 jersey -- in honor of 2017 -- with Trump's name on the back.
"Thank you for being true champions on and off the field," Trump said. "You really exemplify what greatness is all about. You work hard and strive to be the best, and you win really big."
Astros owner Jim Crane, president Reid Ryan, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch joined 28 uniformed members of the 2017 Astros on the dais to listen to Trump talk about the team, often drawing applause and laughter. All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa and closer Ken Giles didn't attend because of family obligations, Crane said.
"To get to come to the people's house and represent our game and see what makes our country great, you go through this building and there's paintings and artifacts from the entire history of our country," Ryan said. "I think all the guys on the team didn't know what to expect, but they left with a great appreciation of our country and our democracy."
The Astros, traveling from West Palm Beach, Fla., during an off-day in Spring Training, toured the White House before the ceremony in a packed East Room. Crane, Luhnow and Hinch spent time with Trump in the Oval Office.
Before Trump entered the room to "Hail to the Chief," the Astros marched in one by one, with Luhnow trailing behind holding the World Series trophy.
"To walk into this building is pretty intimidating, to be honest with you," Hinch said. "This is out of our element of anything we get to experience. A lot of smiles on a lot of faces. We enjoyed our time and got to celebrate again."
Members of the Cajun Navy, a group of boat owners from Louisiana who assisted Houston-area residents in the aftermath of the storm, were on the front row during the ceremony. Members of the Texas congressional delegation were in attendance, including Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
"It's electrifying to walk in and see all the history," Crane said. "The president was great. He was very cordial and spent a lot of time with us in his office. It was a very special day."
Trump gave recognition to World Series Most Valuable Player George Springer and 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve, as well as singling out Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock for their pitching.
"Who could forget the amazing Jose Altuve?" Trump said.
The president also talked about the "lights out pitching" of Justin Verlander, saying the pitcher can crush a golf ball off the tee. "He's a monster," Trump said.
Trump also recognized Houston businessman Mattress "Mac" McIngvale, who opened his store to storm victims immediately after Harvey hammered Houston. Ryan invited McIngvale to make the trip with the team.
"To all the players and the staff, congratulations on your wonderful victory," Trump said. "After the devastating Hurricane Harvey -- it was incredible what you went through -- it's a befitting tribute in what was a show of world spirit and Houston strong."
Reddick said he was honored to present the jersey to Trump.
"You hear honor a lot, and it is a huge honor for me to not only be able to share the moment with my teammates but to come here and visit our president in such an historic building in the White House," he said. "Any time you can get a chance to come and do something like this, it's going to be a great time. For me being a huge history buff, it was about me getting to experience the whole thing and meet our president."