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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks Honoring the World Series Champion Minnesota Twins

1991-10-31

Please be seated everybody. And may I first salute our Cabinet members with us today: Lynn Martin, Jack Kemp, and Bob Mosbacher was to be here. Maybe he didn't get a good seat. [Laughter] And I want to salute the Senators from Minnesota, Senator Durenberger, Senator Wellstone. Of course, Carl Pohlad, Tom Kelly and the players, the coaches, and the official family of the Minnesota Twins.

Dave Durenberger was so confident that he called after the first game of the series to arrange this marvelous event. [Laughter] He now takes full credit for the weather. What a day! What a glorious day, the last day of October! And it's Halloween. You've got to be careful around here with the Congress still in session. [Laughter] Sorry.

Members of the Minnesota congressional delegation, we're just delighted to have you here really, Members of the House and Members of the Senate. And, of course, to two dear friends of mine, commissioner of baseball Fay Vincent and Bobby Brown, Dr. Bobby Brown, the president of the American League.

I also want to single out people that are usually singled out in a different way. And I'm talking about our umpires: Richie Garcia, Drew Coble, Don Denkinger, Rick Reed, Terry Tata, and Harry Wendelstedt. Can we get them to stand up? Thank you, guys. Good to see you again. Thank you all for coming. We're just delighted to see you here. I remember how Bill Klem, a famed umpire, put it. He says, ``I never called one wrong from my heart.'' And that's how Presidents feel, baseball fans and fellow Americans.

First, let me say it's a pleasure to see so many great amateur players here with us today, two Washington, DC champions: the Bell Multicultural High School boys and the H.D. Woodson High School girls. Where are they? Right there. All right, you guys. And America's Little League champions from Danville, California. Where are those guys? You champions stand up there. Let's show them off here.

And we're lucky to have four Babe Ruth League championship teams with us today. They come from Cincinnati and Oakland, last year's World Series teams, and from LaCrescenta, California, and Marietta, Georgia. Our son George Jr., the Texas Rangers guy, called, and he wants me to scout all of you. So, if you'll stick around after this.

Let me welcome the authors of ``That Championship Season,'' the 1991 Minnesota Twins, a team that helped deepen America's love affair with baseball. It is absolutely wonderful what this ball club did for sports and for the spirit in our country. You showed why baseball is the most democratic of sports. It's also the most Republican of sports. [Laughter] But whether in the major leagues or Little League, what counts is the size of your heart and your dreams.

And in 1990, I don't want to remind them of this, they didn't have their best year. They came in last in the West, American League West. And this year, they rose like Lazarus to win their division, beat Toronto in the playoffs, and then came the 88th World Series. And what a series it was: Five games decided by a single run; three went extra innings; five games won in the last inning, and four in the last at-bat. It was a series of indescribable tension, a Fall Classic for all time.

And let me take a moment, incidentally, to talk about that other team in the World Series. What a season it was also for the Braves. What a tribute to character, to human character. They, too, went from worst to first. They, too, captivated this Nation. And they made us hope that the series, like the season itself, would never draw to a close.

Sadly, both now are over. But what memories you have given us. Of infielders Chuck Knoblauch and Greg Gagne, who I gather is not with us today. Chuck here? I think it was Abe Lincoln who said, ``You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. But it took Gagne and Knoblauch to fool a base-runner one time.'' [Laughter]

We recall Brian Harper's clutch hits, Kirby Puckett's game-six winning home run and that circus catch near the wall. Suddenly, Kirby's glove has become more valuable than Michael Jackson's. [Laughter] And Kent Hrbek's brilliance in the field. I refuse to be drawn into that controversy and comment on the play when Kent tagged Ronnie Gant after Gant came off first base. But Barbara asked me to point out to Kent that she could use some help around the house with heavy lifting. [Laughter]

Finally, we think of other moments that made this a series of snapshots of the mind. Dan Gladden's 10th inning, game-seven hustle; Gene Larkin, coming off the bench. We recall Tom Kelly, managing furiously against Bobby Cox; one of the greatest bullpens in baseball history; and Jack Morris winning two games, including a final-game shutout and thrilling the game's most eardrum-popping fans.

Perhaps Mr. Morris, the series' Most Valuable Player, put it best of all, ``It's unfortunate that anyone had to lose this series because this was a true classic in every sense of the word.'' So each of you made this a kaleidoscope of beauty. Each showed why millions of Americans watch baseball, listen to, read about, debate it, and why for a few golden days each October, each of us becomes a self-anointed expert.

And that wonderful friend, Fay's friend and I'm proud to say mine, the late Bart Giamatti, once wrote that baseball is designed to break your heart. True. But it also lifts as perhaps no sport can. So I really, thank you guys for the memories, for coming to the White House on this spectacular day, for giving our country a wonderful lift. And God bless you and the rest of our country as well. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:48 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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