1:45 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everyone. I have to say, this is a record. We’ve never had this many people on the front lawn of the White House. So, congratulations. (Applause.) Just another record for the Nats.
But, today, the First Lady and I are thrilled to welcome to the White House the 2019 World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. (Applause.)
For the first time in nearly 100 years, our nation’s capital is celebrating a World Series victory. That’s big stuff. (Applause.) The last time Washington, D.C. was home to the World Series champs, the President was a gentleman named Calvin Coolidge. That’s a long time ago.
Nearly a century later, the Nationals have brought back the trophy to America’s capital, and you’ve won it. This is the first World Series in franchise history, and it’s going to be, really, the first of many, I predict. (Applause.)
I want to congratulate the terrific owners of the team. Your principal owner, Mark Lerner, and Ted Lerner. Great people. (Applause.) The Lerner family.
A man who’s become very famous — I think he’s much more famous than me right now — General Manager Mike Rizzo. You have become very famous, huh? (Applause.)
MR. RIZZO: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: A manager — and you watch all the mistakes made in baseball and other sports, and then you watch what this man did as manager. He didn’t make any. He didn’t many any. Dave Martinez. (Applause.)
And all of the incredible coaches and players, they’re all here. And we, really, just want to thank you, and I want to thank everybody. I see we have some very special people, and that beautiful — that’s a beautiful trophy. I’ve watched that; I’ve looked at that trophy for a long time. For a long time, I’ve admired it. Many years.
We’re also delighted to be joined by the thousands of proud Nats fans, including — (applause) — Secretary David Bernhardt, Secretary Alex Azar, Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. Many, many folks from Congress are in the audience — senators and everybody. You’re all here. We love you all. And we have a good friend of mine, Bill Posey — Representative Bill Posey. You’re here someplace. Thank you all for being here. A lot of power sitting on this lawn and standing on this lawn.
Throughout this season, the Nationals captured the hearts of baseball fans across the region and across the country. America fell in love with the Nats baseball. They just fell in love with Nats baseball. That’s all they wanted to talk about. That and impeachment. (Laughter.) I like Nats baseball much more. (Laughter and applause.)
You worked every count, hustled for every base, you fought for every run, and produced a comeback story for the ages. Never happened like what happened with the Nats. And that means a lot of good decisions were made. You remind us all why baseball is truly America’s pastime. So great for the sport.
Nearly two months into the season, the Nats had a 19 and 31 record. And I watched it closely too. I wasn’t too happy. (Laughter.) It looked like things weren’t going so well, Mike. Right?
MR. RIZZO: Not at all.
THE PRESIDENT: But these two guys, they didn’t give up. They didn’t give up. And I am sure that everybody was — I’m sure the media was with you all the way, right? (Laughter.)
MR. RIZZO: (Laughs.) Exactly.
THE PRESIDENT: I remember some nasty stories. Boy, did that change pretty quickly, right? That’s great.
But you were second to last in the National League, and it looked like it was going to be a rough year. But you never doubted. As pitcher Max Scherzer — and, boy, did he pitch well. (Applause.) What a job. I’ve watched you for a long time. Nobody — nobody throws it better than you do. What a great job you did, Max. Thank you. Under pressure, as well. Under pressure, as well. But, you know, Max said, “We have the experience. We don’t fold under pressure.” Which puts more pressure on the team, but that’s one of those things, right? (Laughter.) And that’s exactly what happened: You didn’t fold under pressure.
From then on, the Nationals won two games for every loss, which is a tremendous percentage — winning percentage. As you battled for every win, Gerardo Parra changed his walk-up song to “Baby Shark.” (Applause.) That was a favorite of his two-year-old daughter, and it became the anthem for the Nats fans everywhere. And I tell you what: That turned out to be a very, very powerful little tune. (Laughter.)
In the final weeks of the regular season, you were down six runs against the Mets. In the bottom of the ninth, you scored seven runs — I do remember that well — including an amazing three-run homer by Kurt Suzuki . Where is Kurt? Where is he? (Applause.) Come here. Come here. Come here.
MR. RIZZO: He’s got the hat.
THE PRESIDENT: Say a couple of words. Come on. (Laughter and applause.)
Oh! (Mr. Suzuki puts on the “Make America Great Again” hat.)
I love him! Oh! (Applause.) That’s so nice.
MR. SUZUKI: I love you all. I love you all. Thank you. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic.
MR. SUZUKI: Thank you, sir. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: What a job he did. I didn’t know that was going to happen. (Laughter.) And, by the way — Max, will you come over here, please? Come here. (Applause.) I asked the First Lady, “Do you think I can throw a ball as fast as him?” She said, “Yes, darling. Absolutely.” (Laughter.) I don’t think so.
MR. SCHERZER: My gosh. To be in this moment with everybody cheering, for — to be at the White House, what a month. What a magical month. And what — (applause) — when the city gets behind you, and your teammates believe in each other, and you have 1 through 25 on a roster competing, magic happens. And what a day to be able to share it all with you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Max. Great job.
So, you beat the Mets. In the bottom of the ninth, you scored that seven runs, including the amazing three-run homer by Kurt. And the Nats, as always, they lived up to a motto. It’s: “Stay in the Fight!” That’s true about life. “Stay in the Fight.” You never know what’s going to happen. Stay in there.
Soon, you began a legendary post-season run against the best teams and top aces in baseball. Everybody thought it was over because it was almost like, Mike, you were just going against all of the good teams. Dave? It was sort of an incredible thing. And then Josh Hader and Clayton Kershaw to Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: You know those names, right? They’re really good. Right? Pretty good pitchers. Right, Max? And you took care of it. You take care of things. Pretty incredible.
You prevailed in five elimination games. And you were pitching. You were, really, facing the best pitchers in baseball — the absolute top. And you trailed in every single game. Every single one of those games, you were trailing, and executed four of your comebacks in the seventh inning — which I guess is a lucky inning, maybe.
MR. RIZZO: Oh, yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: And seventh inning, and then in a couple of cases later, it was a team effort. Players 1 through 25 gave players gave every single thing they had. They gave their heart. They never quit. They never gave up. They gave their heart. (Applause.) It’s true, right?
At the Wild Card game — it’s such an incredible story. At the Wild Card game, you were down by two runs in the eighth. With bases loaded and two outs, that’s when breakout star Juan Soto — (applause) — where’s Juan? Where is — come here, Juan. Come here. (Laughter.) Look at his head of hair. He’s got no hair problem. I want to tell you that. (Laughter.) Look at that hair, huh? Beautiful.
Say a couple of things.
MR. SOTO: I mean, I just want to thanks everybody here. All the support — you’ve been doing it for us, for the whole team. I think you bring the energy we need to win this thing. And we here. We love you all. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic job, Juan.
But Juan brought in three runs to win the game. We all remember that one. By the end of the post-season, Juan became the youngest player ever to hit three home runs in the World Series. That’s fantastic. (Applause.) Great job.
In the Division Series, you were down against the Dodgers late in the final game. But with your relentless, old-school style of play, the Nationals sent the game to extra innings. That was incredible. With the bases loaded in the 10th, Howie Kendrick hit an epic grand slam home run. (Applause.) Where’s Howie?
THE FIRST LADY: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: Come on, Howie. Come on. Get up there.
MR. KENDRICK: D.C., you already know how I feel about you and know how I feel about this team. You know, truly something special what we’re able to do this year. You guys had a big part in that, but the guys in this locker room had the biggest part. You know, no guy ever gave up. We all kept fighting, especially with a 19 to 31 start.
I mean, it’s miraculous what we did. You know, Davey believed in us. Our office — front office believed in us. Our families believed in us and trusted us. And you know what? We brought a title back. So, enjoy it, because I know we will. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. What a series, right?
MR. KENDRICK: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job, Howie.
In game one of that series, by the way, Aníbal Sánchez shut down the Cardinals’ offense and came within four outs of a no-hitter. That would have been nice. Aníbal. Where’s Aníbal? Where are you, Aníbal? Where are you? Come here, Aníbal. Come on.
They’re more concerned with speaking than they are with playing. That’s pretty good. (Laughter.) Please.
MR. SÁNCHEZ: Thank you, everybody, for being here. This is a special moment for me, for my family, you know, for the whole team. And mostly what the — the thing that we show in the game is just for you guys. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Almost a no-hitter.
In the next three games, Washington outscored St. Louis 18 to 6, won the National League pennant, and you headed to face the Houston Astros. They were here two years ago. They were a great team and are a great team. But you faced them in the World Series.
Ever since the team came to Washington in 2005, Nats fans had dreamed of that incredible moment. After 14 years, only one player from the original team was left. (Applause.) I know you know — you have no idea who I’m talking about. And he’s a great guy, and he’s a great, great player. And that’s Ryan Zimmerman. (Applause.) Great.
Come on, Ryan. Come on. I have to get Ryan up here. And he had some great series. Thank you, Ryan.
(Mr. Zimmerman brings a jersey to the podium.)
MR. PRESIDENT: Ooh!
MR. ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. Thank you, guys. What an unbelievable honor to be here, to be in front of you guys. This is stuff that you dream about. To see all the fans show up, the parade, look at this crowd here — you know, we couldn’t have done it without you. So thank you guys so much.
Mr. President, me and my teammates — first of all, we’d like to thank you for having us here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. ZIMMERMAN: This is a — (applause) — this is an incredible honor that I think all of us will never — will never forget. And we’d also like to thank you for keeping everyone here safe in our country — (applause) — and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. Thank you, Ryan. That’s so nice, Ryan. Thank you, Ryan.
(The President is presented with a jersey.)
Whoa! (Laughs.) Thank you so much. (Applause.)
MR. ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Ryan. Thank you very much, Ryan.
So, you know, Ryan was your original first-ever draft pick. And I think that was a good pick. What do you think? Good pick? (Applause.)
MR. RIZZO: It was wonderful. Wonderful pick.
THE PRESIDENT: It was a good pick.
In game one, Ryan stepped up to the plate for his first at-bat. He reached back, took his swing — I was watching too — and he scored the first World Series home run — (applause) –and got you off to a real start — in Nationals history. That was the first ever in Nationals history.
And, Ryan, I have to tell you, I know a lot of people in this city and they love you. They really love you. Great job. Great job. (Applause.) Great job.
You had two big wins in Houston and beat two great pitchers. Headed back to D.C. hoping for another sweep — and it was looking like it was going to be easy, right? You were thinking it was going to be easy.
MR. RIZZO: No. No.
THE PRESIDENT: And then something bad happened. To the best of my knowledge, you lost three games. How did that happen? We won’t talk about that. (Laughter.)
But that showed, under pressure. What happened? And you were getting good at that, because that’s been the whole season, when you think. It’s never — there’s never been anything like this that’s happened in baseball before. It’s incredible.
Instead, you suffered that three heartbreaking home-field losses in a row. Now, the Nats would have to do what no team had ever had: win all four games on the road. Which is not something that’s very easy to do. (Applause.) And you’re playing a great team and you’re playing against great pitchers.
And then, you have a man named Stephen Strasburg. Did anybody ever hear of him? (Applause.) Stephen. So, Stephen started game six and dominated the Astros for over eight innings. With a 1.98 — think of that, less than 2 against the best hitters in baseball — a 1.98 ERA in the playoffs, you became the first pitcher in history to go 5 and 0 in post-season starts. First player in history. (Applause.)
And I think — Dave, I think that’s a record that’s going to hold up for a long time. There are certain records that hold up for a long time. I suspect that’s going to be one of them. Huh? Five and oh is pretty much almost impossible because they have to be long series, and lots of things have to happen.
Congratulations, Stephen. And come on over, Stephen. We want to hear you. We want to hear you. (Applause.)
Stephen was also designated World Series MVP. (Applause.) What a job. I didn’t know (inaudible.)
AUDIENCE: MVP! MVP! MVP!
MR. STRASBURG: Yeah, we’ve certainly come a long way, Mr. President.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Please, Stras, come back!
MR. STRASBURG: (Laughs.) Thank you.
You know, I think, starting out 19 and 31 only makes this that much better. You know, we could have been like the other teams, we could have won over 100 games and it could have been smooth sailing all the way, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t easy. And I think it was — we only had one choice and that was, you know, stay in the fight. And we stuck together. We pulled for each other. And, man, what a way to celebrate finally finishing that fight. Thank you. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
One more year! One more year! One more year!
THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to consider that four more World Series wins, okay? (Laughter.) That would be very exciting. That’s true.
Despite a controversial interference call — that was slightly controversial, wouldn’t you say?
MR. RIZZO: That was bad.
THE PRESIDENT: Mike just said, “That was bad.” (Laughter.) They might have to fine you for that, right? You’re not allowed to say — huh?
MR. RIZZO: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: They’re going to fine him. That’s all right. We — we know how you feel, right? (Laughter.)
MR. RIZZO: We’ll pay it.
THE PRESIDENT: But you had this incredible call. See, they can’t fine me. I thought it was a terrible call, personally. (Laughter.) Interference call in game six, the Nats rallied and scored seven runs to the Astros’ two and kept hope alive.
Next, came game seven. What a game. And Max Sherzer started. And just as he did whenever Stephen Strasburg took the mound, the Nats won every single post-season game that Max started. I mean, that’s incredible. The two of them, what a job. (Applause.) The whole team, what a job.
But days before, he suffered unbelievable pain — crippling pain, they say — in his neck and back. And I thought to myself, that’s a bad thing. You have a great pitcher — a great fastball pitcher and you have a bad back. And I wouldn’t have thought that he could have pitched in game seven, but that night he held the Astros to just two runs over five innings, stranding nine runners on base. That — that was a game he pitched more with his heart than with his muscle. That was incredible. That was heart. (Applause.) And he really did. That was an incredible job. He was in a lot of pain.
He handed it over to Patrick Corbin. (Applause.) Patrick.
Come on, Patrick. Get over here, Patrick. I don’t know — I don’t know what — there he is. That took — that took guts. (Laughter.) Come on, Patrick. Say something, please.
MR. CORBIN: Thank you. What an honor. This is a very special day for me. I just want to say one thing about this team: We believe in each other all year. We’re really good friends on and off the field. And I’m excited I’m here for five more years. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So, Patrick, as you know, pitched three clutch scoreless frames in relief. And that’s a lot of pressure, and he handled it.
In the sixth, Asdrúbal — where is he? — Cabrera. Where is he? What a job he did. Come here. Where are you? Come here. Come on. We got to get him up. Come here. And Ryan — they executed a critical double play. Unbelievable. Where is that guy? That was a hell of a play. A lot of quickness.
But at the top of the seventh, you still needed one last comeback. That’s when the Nats batted — you hit in six unanswered, right? Six unanswered runs, including Adam Eaton’s two RBIs. (Applause.) Adam Eaton. And you won, and you won the trophy and you won the World Series. And you’re champions, frankly, of the world. The whole world is talking about it. It was very exciting. It was great. Even if you’re a non-baseball fan — and I am a total baseball fan, but there are plenty of non-fans out there. Everybody was watching.
As Dave Martinez said, “Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.” That’s right. That’s really — (applause) — that’s real — come here. You got to say something. Look at this beautiful hair. (Laughter.)
MR. CABRERA: Wow. I can’t explain how excited I’m to be here. I want to thank all you guys for the support. I love you guys, and I hope to come by next year, too. (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Great play. That was a great play. That was an important play, too, huh?
MR. RIZZO: Huge.
THE PRESIDENT: He doesn’t do that — who knows?
MR. RIZZO: Who knows?
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe we’re standing here with somebody else and nobody in the audience, right? (Laughter.) Right?
MR. RIZZO: Exactly.
THE PRESIDENT: Today, in the heart of our nation’s capital and the city that everybody adores in many ways, and a city that adores you and your team and your champions, we’re here to celebrate a World Series win for the ages. This is really something that was very special. You stayed in the fight. You were down so much from the regular season to the post-season to the — I would think that the odds would have been pretty small that you could’ve done what you did. But you did because you have tremendous ability but you have tremendous heart. Maybe even greater heart.
You stayed in the fight. You finished the fight. I want to just congratulate everybody. And, again, the Lerner family — great, great people. And congratulations. It’s a fantastic job you’ve all done. Thank you. (Applause.)
So now I’d like to invite, to say a few words, General Manager Mike Rizzo, and then Dave will say a few words, and then they’re going to keep going on and just keep celebrating, because as soon as they lose the first two or three games, they’re not going to be heroes anymore. That’s the way life works. (Laughter.) But that won’t happen to them.
Please, Mike. Thank you, Mike.
MR. RIZZO: I appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MR. RIZZO: D.C. representing big time! I love it. (Applause.) You guys got after it. Not a baseball town. Not even close. Huge baseball town. What a great fan base we had. The playoffs — the latter part of the season of the playoffs, you guys were electric. It was unbelievable.
I’d like to thank the President and the First Lady for having us here. We’re honored to be here in the long tradition of honoring champions at the White House. This is a particular honor because Washington, D.C. not only is the nation’s capital and the most powerful city in the world, it’s our hometown. (Applause.)
We’ve heard all the players talk about — you’ll hear Davey talk about it, but I’ve got to talk about it: This is a special group of human beings right here. Great baseball players, yes. We know that. Great skills. Great players. They’ve had great accomplishments in their careers. But what a special group of character people we have.
We’re so fortunate here in Washington, D.C. to have representatives of the Washington Nationals, with “Washington” across the front of their jerseys, that take care of their business so like these guys do. It’s incredible. Thank you, guys. (Applause.)
I’m always so proud to tell people that when you read about the Washington Nationals, you read about the Washington Nationals in the sports section. And I think that is very important to tell about these players. (Applause.)
They put together a tremendous run at the end of the season, through their perseverance, their teamwork, their love for each other and love for the game, love for the name on the front of the jersey more so than the name on the back of jersey. They put together a miracle season and an unforgettable post-season.
We’re proud to say that we are the 2009 [sic] World Champions — (applause) — in a season that unified a region when the region unifying the most. (Applause.) And again, as our manager, Davey Martinez, said to eloquently after our many, many — many — celebrations this year — five of them, I think — bumpy roads do lead to beautiful places. And this, here, is a beautiful place. (Applause.) Thank you!
THE PRESIDENT: Great. Great, Mike.
MR. RIZZO: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job.
MR. RIZZO: Thank you, ma’am. Pleasure.
THE PRESIDENT: Please, Dave.
MR. MARTINEZ: I wasn’t going to talk today. My throat is a little hoarse. We met with the Caps last night, and things got a little interesting. (Laughter.) And I don’t want to take up too much time because, apparently, my boys don’t like wearing shirts anymore. (Laughter.)
You know, they often say, “Adversity builds character.” We got some characters. (Laughter.) We got some characters with heart. And what I learned about these boys: They had one heartbeat all year long. They went 1 and 0 all year long. And I’m so proud of this group of guys and what it means to this city and to be a part of it. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So, I just want to thank everybody. We’re going to call this, “Washington Nationals Day.” We’re going to celebrate this as the day for the Washington Nationals. And I really think it’s going to be the day and the week and the month and the year.
It’s been very special what you did, Dave, Mike, the team. It’s been incredible what you’ve done. And the fans — I don’t think there can be fans like the fans that we have over here. And I just want to congratulate you.
Enjoy the lawns of the White House. Enjoy looking at this great building. But this great building is celebrating great people, and that’s the Washington Nationals.
Congratulations, everybody. (Applause.) Congratulations.
2:12 P.M. EST