Remarks on Greeting Participants in the Cracker Jack Old Timers Baseball Classic

July 2, 1984

The President. Our guests today are some of the baseball players who will be in tonight's game. They call them the oldtimers. I don't see any oldtimers up here. All ready to go. But we're very pleased and proud to have them here.

Reporter. Mr. President, will you agree to negotiate with the Russians on space even if they won't talk about missiles?

The President. Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News], this isn't for that subject -- but we stand by what we proposed yesterday, and we're in communication with them.

Q. Any progress with Dobrynin, sir?

Q. Did you make any progress with Dobrynin, sir?

The President. He was a guest at our barbecue last night. He -- --

Q. They say your position is totally unsatisfactory, sir.

The President. I can't go on talking about this. We are dealing with them and in communication with them.

Let me reiterate -- tonight there's a much more important thing going on, which is the baseball game. [Laughter]

Harmon Killebrew. All right. Mr. President -- --

Q. Are you saying, Mr. President -- --

Mr. Killebrew. -- -- on behalf of the Old Timers Cracker Jack Game, I'd like to present this baseball to you. We hope that you'll be pulling for both teams tonight. Thank you very much.

The President. I'll just have to -- --

Q. Mr. President, are you setting up a condition to talk to the Russians?

The President. I'm not going to take that up now. There will be plenty of time for that.

Q. Are you saying that the TASS rejection is not a final rejection, sir?

The President. Isn't this a lovely baseball? [Laughter] All autographed by all these -- --

Q. All right, did you and Curly ever do any of these boys? [Laughter]

The President. What?

Q. You and Curly -- did you ever do any of these boys?

The President. I'm afraid that I was probably ahead of all of you. I was broadcasting in the early and middle thirties.

Bill Rigney. Careful, you're starting to touch some nerves there. [Laughter]

The President. No, I don't think there's any of you -- --

Mr. Rigney. I started in '38.

The President. In '38? Well, I was through by then.

Mr. Rigney. Were you?

The President. Yes.

Ernie Banks. The Cubs won in '45.

The President. What's that?

Mr. Banks. 1945, the Cubs won the pennant.

The President. Yes. As a matter of fact, I was broadcasting the Chicago Cubs, his team, in those days when the only mathematical chance they had to win the pennant was to win the last 21 games of the season. And they did it, and it's still a record in the record books that's never been equaled. They won that last 21. And the last series, the last four games was with the Cardinals, the team that they had to beat.

Mr. Rigney. Is that the one Hartnett hit the home run?

The President. What?

Mr. Rigney. Gabby Hartnett hit the home run?

Mr. Killebrew. That was against Pittsburgh.

The President. My high spot in all of that was in the ninth inning of a game, the Cubs and Cards were tied up. I was broadcasting telegraphic report, and it was tied nothing to nothing, as I say. And the message that came through to me said the wire had gone dead. And I decided that I was just going to take a chance. So, I set a world record -- Billy Jurges at the plate -- for foul balls. [Laughter] I don't know how long he was up there, but it was a world record. And then when the wire was fixed, the first message came in said he popped out on the first ball pitched. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, is baseball really more important than arms control? [Laughter]

The President. As of these particular moments, yes. I -- courtesy to my visitors here.

Q. Mr. President, have you thrown the Soviets a curve ball or a sucker pitch? [Laughter]

The President. Well, I've been tempted sometimes to walk them. No -- say, that's right, I did play Old Alex. [Laughter] I pitched him a fast ball. [Laughter]

Q. Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

Q. Can you tell us anything about Dobrynin?

The President. All right. Let's go back.

Q. Can you tell us anything about Dobrynin, what happened last night? Anything at all?

The President. What?

Q. About Dobrynin, what you two talked about last night?

The President. We just discussed the situation there in a pleasant manner.

Q. Mr. President, did you give him a message to take back to Moscow this week?

The President. He'll have a message.

Q. Mr. President, who was doing the Cardinals games?

Note: The President spoke at 11:49 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.