Remarks Congratulating the World Series Champion Minnesota Twins

 

October 29, 1987

 

The President. Well, I thank you all, and I'd like to welcome the winners of the 84th World Series, the Minnesota Twins; their owner, Carl Pohlad; and the umpires and officials of major league baseball to the White House and Washington, the Twins' original home. And by the way, if you'd like to move back here, keep in mind, there's no astroturf here. [Laughter] The Rose Garden has real grass. [Laughter] And I know there are a lot of people in this town who want a major league baseball team again. So, if you guys ever get tired of playing in front of all those screaming, adoring fans, you're welcome back. [Laughter] Well, actually, I could use a couple of you guys in the Congress hitting some grand slams for me up there, and maybe some of you umpires calling the shots.

 

But seriously, I'd like to congratulate your manager, Tom Kelly, the youngest nonplaying manager to take his team to a World Series since 1905, and Frank Viola, the series most valuable player, and Garry Gaetti, the league championship series most valuable player. And, Frank and Garry, you two really did an outstanding job, as did all the Twins.

 

You know, right up there until the end, there were a few skeptics saying the Twins didn't stand a chance. Well, you guys proved them wrong, winning all four home games, which is the way it should have been, what with your home-win percentage of 691, the best of any team during the past season. That's one heck of a finish, considering the Twins were 150 to 1 long shots at the start of the season. But with Frank's pitching, Garry's fielding, and the hitting of Kirby Puckett and Dan Gladden and Tom Brunansky and Kent Hrbek, your team was a shoo-in. As Kirby said after the final victory, you're ``number one in the whole world.''

 

The Minnesota Twins franchise has come a long way in the past 86 years. It started out as the Washington Senators, won the '24 World Series, lost in the '25 and '33 series, moved to Minnesota in '61 and lost the '65 series, and finally, ending up with a thrilling seventh game victory in front of 55,376 decibel-shattering fans. [Laughter] You know, one sportscaster announcing those games proclaimed: ``Forget the decibel meter; how about the Richter scale.'' [Laughter] Or as second baseman Steve Lombardozzi said: ``I wish all the fans that were out there tonight could stand in my shoes and feel the exhilarating feeling. It is beyond description.'' Well, Steve, I'm not sure those fans didn't feel a bit of the exhilaration. I know they felt the thunder.

 

And you know all this talk about baseball, I got to get in the game somehow myself here with a story. I set a record in baseball, in major league baseball. I wasn't playing, I was a sports announcer. I was doing a telegraphic report game of the Cubs and the Cards. Billy Jurges at the plate, ninth inning, the game tied up. I saw my operator on the other side of the window with the headphones on, listening to the dot and dash from the field, and start typing meaning that there was something -- the ball was on the way to the plate, and so I didn't wait. Dizzy Dean was on the mound. And I said, ``All right, Dean has got his sign. He's out of the windup. Here comes the pitch.''

 

And he was shaking his head no. And I took it, and it said the wire has gone dead. [Laughter] I had a ball on the way to the plate, so I had Jurges foul it off. [Laughter] And then I thought, you know, in those days a dozen of us were broadcasting the same baseball game. It wasn't one outfit. And I didn't want to, at that point of the game, lose my audience.

 

So, I decided I'd have Jurges foul another one off, which he did. [Laughter] And my operator still just sitting there. Then I had him foul one that just missed being a homerun by a foot. [Laughter] Then I had him foul one down back of third, and I described the two kids that got in a fight over the ball. [Laughter]

 

Well, this went on until I knew now I couldn't back out; I'd had him at the plate so long. And all of a sudden, Curly started typing. And I started another ball to the plate, and I could hardly talk for giggling. Jurges popped out on the first ball pitched. [Laughter] But in the meantime, I had set a baseball record for successive fouls and length of time at the bat for one player. [Laughter]

 

Well, you know, this is the true essence of sportsmanship -- what has taken place here. A World Series saw two teams competing right down to the ninth inning of the seventh game. And it's reflected, I think, in St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog's statement: ``We got to the seventh game of the World Series. If I could do that for the next 10 years, I'd be satisfied.''

 

Well, the Cards just might do that, considering they're the only team to play in the World Series three times in this decade. And to reach this playoff, the Cardinals had to overcome the immense talent of three great teams: the Mets, the Expos, and the Giants. I'd like to think the Cardinals were winners in their own way. They made no excuses, and they accepted their defeat with class.

 

So, to all you champions here and those homer hanky-waving Minnesotans back home as well as here, again congratulations. And Steve Lombardozzi no longer needs to worry about hearing the term ``Twinkie'' anymore. [Laughter] The Minnesota Twins are the world champs. So, good luck, champs, and God bless you all.

 

Mr. Pohlad. Well, thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota, and the entire upper Midwest area, we thank you for this honor, Mr. President.

 

I'd like to take a moment of silence just to extend our deep sympathy to Mrs. Reagan and the unfortunate death of her mother. So, if you'll just be quiet and bow your heads for a second. I hope, Mr. President, you will extend our best to Mrs. Reagan.

 

The President. I will.

 

Mr. Pohlad. You know, there used to be an old saying around Washington: Washington is noted for being ``first in war, first in peace, and you could always depend on the Senators to finish last.'' [Laughter] I'm proud of our team, Mr. President. They operate -- or, work together as a family. Never have I heard the expression ``I.'' You understand how important it is to work as a team. And everything I've heard this year has been ``we, we, we,'' and I think it's a great tribute to you players out there. And I'm looking forward to being back here, personally, next year at this same time, if you'll be good enough to invite me. [Laughter]

 

Now, I can remember Mr. Reagan when he used to -- Mr. President, I should say, announce at WHO in Des Moines.

 

The President. Yes.

 

Mr. Pohlad. I was brought up in Valley Junction. You've probably never heard of that.

 

The President. Oh, yes.

 

Mr. Pohlad. Now known as West Des Moines. They've changed the name, and they're trying to get the name now changed back to Valley Junction. So, that's because I guess I was there or something. [Laughter] Well, anyway, thank you again, Mr. President, for inviting us, and as I say, we'll look forward to next year.

 

Mr. Kelly. On behalf of the ball club, I get to do the honors. But one thing I want to bring up here: After looking at these umpires for 7 days, it's nice to see their wives with them here today. [Laughter] What an awful sight for 7 days. God! Frightening! [Laughter] You think talking to the media is bad -- you talk to these fellows for 7 days. [Laughter] Okay.

 

On behalf of the ball club, Mr. President, we've brought along a few tokens of our appreciation of you having us here. We've got a couple of Ken Hrbek model bats -- but we've got everybody's name on there. And one's for you and Mrs. Reagan. Also we have a shirt that Frankie is going to model here. And also, from the wives, the wives brought a whistle along for Mrs. Reagan. Okay. If you need that to referee any of your talks coming up, just whip that baby out. [Laughter]

 

The President. Thank you very much.

 

Mr. Kelly. Do you want me to hold them for you?

 

The President. No, thank you very much. I'm very proud to have these things. And before I blow the whistle, I do want to thank you for also that moment for Nancy. And I couldn't help but think how appropriate. Nancy's mother was a wonderful woman. And she always insisted that Nancy's July 6th birthday was supposed to be July 4th. But there was a double-header that day -- [laughter] -- and she postponed it. [Laughter] She was in New York and a Yankee fan at the time. [Laughter] But I'm very proud to have these and proud of all of you. And now here we go!

 

Note: The President spoke at 11:30 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Following his remarks, he blew the whistle given to him by Tom Kelly.