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Public Papers - 1992 - December

Remarks Honoring the World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays

1992-12-16

This is about as much fun as I've had since the election, I'll tell you. I am just delighted that the Toronto Blue Jays are here. Ambassador Burney was to be here; I don't know that he is. But he's a good man. He's represented Canada well. And that brings me to the subject at hand. Is Steve -- I can't see -- there's Bobby. Hi, Steve. Bobby Brown is here, an oldtime, longtime friend, the American League president, and I appreciate your being here, and Steve Greenberg, who is the deputy commissioner of baseball and doing a superb job in that very tough office. And I want to salute Mike Reilly and Joe West, the umpires. Very little good is said in kind about the umpires, but I'm glad to stand up for them. They do a great job. And our Little League champs are here from Long Beach, California. And behind them, I'm told, the Babe Ruth champs, Babe Ruth League champions from across the Nation. So welcome to all of you.

I wish that Carla Hills were here. You might say, ``Why?'' She is our Trade Representative. And I thought she understood that our free trade agreement with Canada did not mean that the United States would trade away the world's championship. [Laughter] And most of these guys are very loyal to Canada and the Blue Jays, but most of them are Americans. And so we salute them as championship baseball players. I really am pleased that you could come down this festive time of year, and I'm proud to honor a team whose greatness transcends nationality.

The Atlanta Braves -- it's like the Dallas Cowboys used to be, America's team, you know -- the Atlanta Braves are known as America's team. And beating them, the Blue Jays became a true world championship team.

You know, I'm not sure in the World Series if it's getting more exciting each year or if I'm just enjoying it more. But this year's matchup was a heart-stopper that baseball fans I don't believe will ever forget. Think of it: four one-run ball games, three Toronto victories won in the final time at bat. The Braves and Blue Jays staged a fall classic that even Ripley wouldn't believe.

And your season and this series were punctuated by some great individual efforts: Joe Carter, the man who brought you all home with the RBI's; Mike Timlin and the relief pitching crew who came up with some tight pitching at the end of very close ball games; the MVP effort put in by catcher Pat Borders, who couldn't be with us this morning -- you see, his wife is due any day now with their second child; and then pitcher Jack Morris, who is here for the second year in a row. He manages to come no matter what happens. [Laughter] He came here with the Twins last year, and if he comes next year, we're going to give him a guest room -- [laughter] -- or get Governor Clinton to.

But, anyway, it was Old Man River's 11th-inning double in game 6 that put this series in the record books. And that hit, by a 41-year-old veteran, showed that baseball isn't about country; it's about courage and stamina and grit. And after 21 years in the majors, Dave Winfield finally has the World Series ring.

Cito Gaston, his coaching staff, and the entire Blue Jays team showed that America's pastime is becoming the world's pastime. And for that, as a fan, I could not be happier. By winning Canada's first World Series, you all became national heroes as well as cultural ambassadors, and you did it with class. You did it with class all the way. And class, of course, has marked the entire Blue Jays history. In 16 years, you've gone from the doghouse to the penthouse. Millie likes that. [Laughter]

Your general manager, Pat Gillick, will tell you those first few seasons were not easy. But in five of the last six seasons, Toronto has either won the American League East or finished second. And your fans have taken notice of your hard work. When you built the world's first convertible stadium, Skydome, who would have expected major league attendance records in 1991 and in 1992? More than 4 million fans each year.

Now, it's no secret that in the series, I had to -- it was kind of an international thing; please, don't you guys be sore -- I kind of rooted for the Braves, you may remember. [Laughter] But I've also got -- and I'm not holding it against you all that you beat up my kid's team, the Texas Rangers, like you did. [Laughter] About the All Star Game, they were doing pretty well, until they ran into you guys from time to time; down they went. But nevertheless, that's another subject.

But look, I do want to congratulate the Braves also. They had another great season. They fought hard, and they never gave up. But in the end you won it, and you won it fair and square. And both personally and on behalf of the United States, I salute you. As I told Cito from Air Force One the day after the series, America is proud of you.

And in a larger sense I want to salute all of baseball, a game that I've loved since my dad took me to my first game -- I think it was in Yankee Stadium -- many, many years ago. In that spirit let me recognize the future major leaguers that are here this morning: The world Little League champions, the All Stars from Long Beach, California -- you guys stand up for one second. There they are. Welcome, and I'm glad you came all this way. No speeches out of you guys; I'll do that. [Laughter] Okay. Special congratulations to the Babe Ruth League champs from Lexington, Kentucky, in the 6-to-12 division -- where are they? You guys stand up. Thank you. And then from Phoenix in the 13-to-15-year-old division, big guys -- where are they? Well done. And then lastly from Vancouver, Washington, in the 16-to-18-year-old category, we have some of those -- there they are.

I hope all of you recall this day and these world's champions from Toronto. I can't think of better role models to follow or better examples of character: Fight clean and fair, and do your best.

Joe McCarthy, the great Yankee manager -- Bobby, did you play for Joe? -- once said, ``Give a boy a bat and a ball, and he'll be a good citizen.'' And those words are as relevant today as when I was playing baseball some 40 years ago, hitting eighth, second cleanup we called it. [Laughter] And to the heroes of baseball, young and old, I congratulate you on behalf of our Nation, and I extend to you a very warm welcome to the White House. You've all excelled in that great American pastime we follow to this day. And so congratulations.

At this very special time of year, may God bless each and every one of you. Thanks for coming to the White House.

And now Cito, as a closing thing, I wish you'd come over here. This is a rookie ball player who needs a job. [Laughter] And I'm going to give you this baseball card. Take a look at him. You need a good-fielding first baseman; I'm your man.

Good to see you all, and thanks for coming.

Note: The President spoke at 9:47 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.

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