12:33 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I hope you enjoyed that walk, Jim. (Laughter.) That’s quite a walk, right?
MR. CRANE: It was great.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to thank you. And I’m thrilled to be here and welcome to the White House the 2017 World Series Champion, the Houston Astros. And what a team, because I watched our Yankees, and the Yankees were good and they were tough. They were about as tough as anybody, but you guys were just a little bit tougher. So congratulations. (Applause.)
It was — Game 7 of the World Series was one of the greatest baseball games anybody has ever seen. Tremendous for the sport, and it’s really a reminder why baseball is our national pastime.
Thank you to the Energy Secretary, Rick Perry. We love Rick, right? Did I do the right job with Rick? (Applause.) I think we did the right job. Right, John?
There’s John Cornyn, too. You know John, your great senator. And is that Ted Cruz? That’s Ted Cruz right there. We have — well represented. You’re well represented today.
But I do want to thank Senator Cornyn, Senator Cruz, Representative Kevin Brady. Where’s Kevin? Where is Kevin? Kevin, are we going for an additional tax cut, I understand? (Laughter.) He’s the king of those tax cuts. Yeah, we’re going to do a phase two. I’m hearing that. You hear that John and Ted? Phase two. (Laughter.)
We’re actually very serious about that, Kevin. So it’s good. But Kevin Brady is a spectacular person, and did a really incredible job with the tax cuts.
And to all of the members of the Texas Congressional delegation, thank you very much. A delegation of great people. Thank you all for being here. It’s a big delegation. You all show up for the Houston Astros, don’t you? That’s great.
To Jim Crane, General Manager Jeff Luhnow, President Reid Ryan, skipper A.J. Hinch — become very famous — A.J., you’ve become very famous, I have to tell you — that was a great job of skippering — (laughter) — and all the players and staff, congratulations on your incredible victory. It was indeed. After the devastating Hurricane Harvey, incredible that, with what you went through, that you’re the champions with what you went through with Harvey. It’s a really befitting tribute — what was really a show of world spirit and Houston Strong. You were Houston Strong.
I also want to thank some of the heroes of Hurricane Harvey who join us today, including members of the incredible Cajun Navy. Right here, these guys. (Applause.) Right. Jon — thank you, Jon. You have Jon Bridgers. We have Ben Husser. Reverend Louis Husser — he said he was praying for me. That’s good. Thank you, that’s always nice. That helps. Louis Husser and — that’s your boy, huh? Your son. Great. Billy Brineger, John Able, and Daniel Richardson — Cajun Navy. Thank you very much for being here. (Applause.)
Jim McIngvale, known as the “Mattress Mack,” I met him early on in the campaign. Where’s Jim? (Applause.) I met him early in the campaign, and I think you stayed with me, didn’t you? You were right there, Jim.
But I met him early. He liked me; I liked him. Mattress Mack, great job you’ve done. Going to sell a lot of mattresses after today. (Laughter.) He knows what he’s doing, right? He knows what he’s doing. Thank you very much, Jim, for being here.
When Harvey struck, I will say this, Jim — Mattress Mack — opened the doors to his furniture store, and provided food and shelter to hundreds and hundreds of people. And when the Astros made it to the World Series, he paid to send first responders of Hurricane Harvey to Game 6 in Los Angeles. He’s a real Texas guy. Not just Houston, Texas, right? (Applause.)
And I want to thank every member of the Astros team who spent time with those displaced in shelters. You held food and supply drives all over Texas and beyond, and gave millions and millions of dollars of your salaries. I know you’re doing pretty damn well. You’re going to be doing even better now. Boy, would I like to be — can I be your agent? (Laughter.) I want to be your agent. Look at Jim. He doesn’t find that funny at all. (Laughter.)
When Maria ravaged Puerto Rico weeks later, the Houston Astros redoubled their assistance, and many of them went there and helped. Really great.
Our administration will continue to stand by the people of Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico, Louisiana, even Alabama and so many other places were affected — and we’re standing by all of them.
Texas was incredible, the way they recovered. You had a devastating, devastating hurricane. It kept going — I’ve never seen anything like it. It went in, and you thought it was gone, and it came out and got more water. In, out, in, out — three times. There’s never been anything like it that we’ve seen. From the standpoint of water, not even close. There has never been anything so bad.
And, yet, you recovered so incredibly well. I was there. I was there very shortly after. And some of the streets, it was six feet high in water. You could hardly notice that they were affected. In one case, a man was actually cutting his lawn. I said, “The lawn is pretty wet, isn’t it?” (Laughter.) But he wanted to cut it anyway.
Oh, look who we have: Louie Gohmert. Louie. Boy, I’ll tell you, what a good congressman. What a great job. Thank you, Louie. Thank you for being here.
The Astros’ victory for the ages was truly a team effort. And that is true. Everyone contributed, everyone made critical plays, everybody helped deliver the championship. Very few errors on that team.
The Astros have had an incredible progression in recent years. Not so long ago, I’d watch — I’m a big baseball fan — and the team was not a good team. Maybe it was a good team, but it wasn’t doing very well. And what you did this year was incredible, putting it all together. And it’s true testament — really, a true testament — to the entire organization and to your many loyal fans. You have great fans. Texas is an amazing place. Great place. (Applause.)
It’s tough stuff. Winning the World Series required years of effort, faith in your vision, and an unwavering will to succeed. And now, what happens a lot of times is you get a little complacent, and bad things happen. I don’t think that’s going to happen to this team.
THE PRESIDENT: There’ll be no complacency, fellas?
PARTICIPANT: No, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Just forget about last year, right? Just put it down as a great memory, but no complacency.
How about George Springer, the Most Valuable Player of the World Series. Where’s George? (Applause.) So let’s see, George hit five homers — that’s a lot of homers — (laughter) — during the Fall Classic — only the third player ever to do so in history. That’s pretty great. Way to go, George.
And who could forget the amazing José Altuve? Where’s José? (Applause.) He’s much taller than I thought. (Laughter.) Unbelievable. That’s a hell of a team. Congratulations, José. That’s really — what you’ve done is incredible. The American League MVP is a true fan favorite. He led his team in hits and set a new career high with a .346 batting average — .346, wow. That’s good.
You know, I sat next to Stan Musial about 10 years ago, before he passed away. And he was doing the circuit. And I think he said he played for 22 years and his batting average was .333. And I said — and he was never the happiest person after — because he figured he missed out. But I’ll tell you, what a great guy. Stan the Man, right? Twenty-two years, .333 batting average. So that’s good. But for this year, you beat him, right? (Laughter.) That’s great. That’s good. (Applause.) Do it for another 22 years. (Laughs.) He’ll do it.
Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton both won 14 games during the regular season. And they were tough. And Brad Peacock was very close behind. So, fellas, congratulations. Great job. Great job. Great job. Brad, great job. (Applause.)
And, of course, the lights-out pitching of Justin Verlander. (Applause.) So I know Justin. Justin is a friend of mine, and Justin and I played golf. And I’m a pretty long hitter. This guy is — he is a monster. (Laughter.) And he said he’s a 2 or a 3 handicap, but, believe me, he is much better than that. He’s about a plus-2 or a plus-3. But we love playing, and it was really great. And what he wants to do is get back to pitching. And I think he’s going to have a fantastic year. So good luck, Justin. Congratulations on the win. (Applause.)
You know, pretty amazing if you’re a baseball fan — Justin delivered 4 wins and 38 strikeouts in 6 playoff appearances. When you think about, that’s big stuff.
To all of the players and management of the Houston Astros, I want to say, once again, thank you for being true champions on and off the field. You really have — it really exemplifies what greatness is all about. You work hard, you strive to be the best, and you won really big. And it’s a credit to the players here today, the Astros leadership, your millions of loyal fans in Houston, in Texas, and beyond Texas.
You have a lot of fans beyond Texas. I have a guy, he’s a New York guy. I don’t think he’s ever left the city, and he likes the Houston Astros. I said, “How does that work?” He likes the team. He likes what you represent. And the unbreakable spirit — you really do, it’s an unbreakable spirit of the great state of Texas.
So congratulations again. And with the Opening Day soon upon us — when is Opening Day?
MR. HINCH: Two-and-a-half weeks.
THE PRESIDENT: Two-and-a-half weeks. You nervous?
MR. HINCH: No. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Not even a little bit? I wouldn’t be. I wouldn’t be. Nobody nervous? Good. Good. Well, you’ll want to be a little bit nervous, maybe. Right? But you’re going to — you’re going to have a great year. They say the team is maybe even stronger. So that’s pretty good.
So with the Opening Day coming soon, I just wish everybody a really phenomenal season, a healthy season. You’re going to go out there, you’re going to do great. You’re really expected to do very well. I see a lot of people are predicting you could do it again.
And I say God bless you. God bless Texas. And God bless America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
And now, I’d like to invite my friend, Jim Crane, the owner of the Houston Astros, up to say a few words. Terrific guy. Terrific success. And what a job you’ve done. Congratulations, Jim. (Applause.)
MR. CRANE: He’s got a little better notes than I got — (laughter) — so thank you, Mr. President. It’s a great honor for the Houston organization to be here. We’re very honored. The entire team and all of our fans want to thank you very much for acknowledging the efforts in the state. A lot of great people in Texas. These guys in the front row, great job getting us out of a mess.
It was a very special season, with all that was going on. The team pulled together very well. They came back from the storm, they put “Houston Strong” on their shirts, and came back and started helping right away. Great job on all the teammates and all the effort they put in to help us. And you know, Houston really recovered very quickly — I think the spirits of the team and the dedication.
I want to thank all the fans. Fifty-nine years, we had never won a World Series. Texas never won a World Series. So we’re glad to finally deliver that for the state of Texas. (Applause.)
Again, a great group of guys. You know, when you have a team like this, everything kind of comes together and everything kind of works.
A.J., with his coaching staff and his great leadership, you know, was really handling the guys well throughout the season. He’s fun to watch and he’s a great communicator. He’s a great leader.
Jeff, with the baseball operation, all of his guys and the analytics. Jeff really came in six years ago and, you know, restructured the whole organization. And it’s his plan — his 21-page plan that he delivered to me 6 years ago that got us there for the first time.
Reed, with his group, all of the staff here — everybody over there on the left — all of their hard work behind the scenes to support the fans and team effort.
And we’re committed to try to do it again. Our motto for this year — (applause) — our motto this year is, “We never settle.” So A.J. will tell you how we’re going to do that again. (Laughter and applause.)
MR. HINCH: Well, I’ll tell you how we’re going to do it again, maybe, in a little bit. But, Mr. President, I’d like to thank you. On behalf of the players, the coaches, clubhouse personnel, from the field, we are honored to be here. And we — as the champions in Major League Baseball, we’ll represent baseball well, we try to represent the country well, and to celebrate this in front of the whole country is truly an honor.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. HINCH: I will tell you how you’re going to remember this team. And I’ll remember this team for a lot of reasons.
Number one, we can talk about Hurricane Harvey, which everyone has. To watch this team of men experience Hurricane Harvey and become leaders in the community and help rebuild our great city was nothing short of extraordinary. And my hat goes off to them for, as players during the season, to be able to be truly good men and help others.
The other reason, if you watch us play, you’ll fall in love with this team is the way we play. It’s the makeup of this team that so many people around Houston are proud of. Diversity — we come from everywhere, all shapes and sizes, all different countries, different backgrounds, high draft picks, low draft picks, non-draft picks. We added a few guys at the end that helped us. We really came together and were the true essence of a team. And as manager, you can’t be any more proud than to watch your team become one. It’s one of the reasons we won the World Series.
And lastly, you know, I’ll tell you that it’s the characters and the personalities, and it’s the true love of the game that shows every night that we play. We won 100-plus games in the regular season. You would never know it. If one word you don’t have to worry about, we won’t be “complacent” because of the characters that we have on this team.
And so I’m going to bring one of the biggest ones in Josh Reddick, who — we have a gift for you now. Now, if you follow our team, you may fear that we’re going to present Mr. President a Speedo. (Laughter.) But we are not. (Laughter.) We instead are going to present you a jersey to forever remember our team as the champions in 2017.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thank you. Thank you, Josh.
MR. REDDICK: Yes, sir. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. So, Jim, would anybody else like to say a few words. Because actually, you were supposed to introduce somebody else, but I’ll do it for you. Come on up here and say a couple of words. Get up here. Come on. (Applause.)
MR. LUHNOW: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thanks for having us here. We had a vision in 2011. It was a little different than what the media and the fans were expecting. “Radical ways,” they called it. But at the end of the day, our goal was to win a championship as soon as possible, and to build an organization that could compete for multiple championships.
We did it. It didn’t always work out the way we wanted. We had a lot of adversity in the early years. But we stuck to our plan, we brought in the right group of players, and it ended up with a trophy that you see right here.
So thank you very much for hosting us, and we plan to be back.
THE PRESIDENT: I bet you will. (Applause.) I bet you will.
Well, what a great honor. I’ve been a baseball fan, and I used to play baseball at a slightly different level — (laughter) — like at a high school level. A little different. But I love the game, it’s a great game, and you are great champions.
And I just want to let you know, your country is doing fantastically well. We had one of the best economic days in our history on Friday. The numbers were announced, and you’re going to see other numbers coming out. We’re really back on track. We’re not letting the world take advantage of us anymore. And it’s being changed very rapidly, so you see that happening. (Applause.)
And I just want to thank all of you for representing not only the great state of Texas, but our country so well. Thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
12:51 P.M. EDT