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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks Congratulating the Oakland Athletics on Winning the World Series

1989-11-07

Mayor Wilson, officially, and to Mr. Walter Haas over here; an old friend of mine, and Wally, and Dr. Bobby Brown, the president of the American League; Tony La Russa and the players and staff of the Oakland A's; and also the distinguished Members of the enormous, effective congressional delegation from California; also the members of the Babe Ruth League championship teams from Forest Grove, Oregon; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and Oakland, California, and anybody left over: Welcome to you. [Laughter]

It's a great day. And I feel this is a special and historic occasion. After all, I'll bet it's not often that the Oakland A's are honored by an unofficial scout for the Texas Rangers. [Laughter]

Today we're talking baseball and a team that is clearly and truly number one: the world champion Oakland A's. And the A's, of course, have this wonderful baseball heritage -- nine world titles going back, what, 88 years, including four since coming to Oakland -- a tradition of character and triumph, a tradition embodied, perhaps, by the elephant gracing your uniform sleeve. [Laughter] You read that any way you want, but I'm impressed. [Laughter]

And this year's champions were true to that heritage: 99 games won and the American League West. As Casey Stengel would say, ``You could look it up.'' And then downing Toronto in the playoffs and sweeping the crosstown Giants in the ``Battle of the Bay.'' I only wish Tony La Russa could help pilot my budget through Congress the way he piloted the A's to this World Series victory.

And what remarkable moments, really, for those of us that love sports you have given us: that saver, No. 43, charging from the bullpen. You know how the A's spell relief? E - C - K. And of the series' outstanding player -- well, I'm just glad I'm not running for office against Dave Stewart. Perhaps a news weekly said it best of Dave's brilliance and community service: ``In the eyes of his Oakland neighbors, Dave's MVP meant Most Valuable Person.'' And then there's perhaps baseball's all-time leading leadoff hitter, Rickey Henderson, stealing a ton of bases, stealing the hearts of Oakland, and Mark McGwire, of the Bash Brothers, and, of course, Jose Canseco and Walt Weiss and Carney Lansford and Terry Steinbach and, yes, Dave Henderson. Let me say: With your homers against the Giants, when I go to talk to Mr. Gorbachev about reducing offensive weapons, I'm going to tell him that Hendu's bat is not negotiable. [Laughter]

Big leaguers all, each contributing big-time to the cause, a cause led by Tony La Russa, a lawyer and an even greater manager, and one of baseball's pioneering front-office staffs as well -- a club which hit superbly and fielded brilliantly and which, spurred by Mike Moore and Bob Welch, Storm Davis, an outstanding bullpen, echoed your franchise's founder, Connie Mack, who said, ``Pitching is 90 percent of baseball.''

And this year, the A's built on 1988, delighting some of baseball's greatest fans. Think of it: regular-season attendance of almost 2.7 million. No wonder the Haases are smiling here -- [laughter] -- with some of the greatest baseball played since Abner Doubleday got his tape measure out and started laying out the diamond.

And, yes, champions on the field and champions off it, for you helped the bay area through some hard and tragic times, as did those equally magnificent Giants. And the earthquake which shook northern California delayed the series and for a moment paralyzed the entire region. But like the citizens of Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, you, too, bounced back, overcoming adversity, uniting a populace, showing how true pros perform when the odds are longest and the evening darkest and the game is on the line -- the game of baseball or the larger game of life. And for that I congratulate you and each American salutes you.

The great pitcher Dizzy Dean used to say: ``It ain't bragging if you can back it up.'' Well, first in the regular season, first in the post-season, here stand the championship Oakland A's. And in 1989 you sure backed it up. And to you we all say: Well done!

Thank you so very much for coming to the White House. Thank you for the example you set for the young people in this country, and God bless you all. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:02 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Oakland Mayor Lionel J. Wilson, team owner Walter Haas and his son Wally, and relief pitcher Dennis Eckersley.

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