WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump welcomed most of the Washington Nationals to the White House on Monday to celebrate their World Series win over the Houston Astros.
During the ceremony on the White House South Lawn, Trump invited several players to the podium — including catcher Kurt Suzuki, who put on a Make America Great Again hat and held his arms up toward the crowd, sparking a hug from the president.
While a majority of the team was in attendance, several players opted to skip the event.
On Friday, Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle said that he would not be attending the ceremony, telling The Washington Post that "I don't want to hang out with somebody who talks like that." Other players who appeared to skip the event included Anthony Rendon, Javy Guerra, Joe Ross, Victor Robles, Wander Suero and Michael Taylor.
The Nationals who did attend emerged to the United States Marine Band's rendition of player Gerardo Parra's walk-up song "Baby Shark." The melody, which he chose to honor his daughter Aaliyah, 2, became an unofficial anthem for the team this year.
Trump congratulated the Nationals on the victory, saying Nats baseball and the impeachment inquiry had been the biggest stories in the country.
"America fell in love with Nats baseball, that’s all they wanted to talk about. Nats and impeachment. I like baseball a lot more," Trump said.
The president attended Game 5 of the World Series at Nationals Park, where he was greeted by many fans with a chorus of boos and "Lock him up!" chants.
This has been the third Washington, D.C., team that has won a league championship since Trump took office. The 2018 Stanley Cup winners Washington Capitals attended a ceremony at the White House in March this year, though several notable players did not attend, including goalie Braden Holtby and forward Brett Connolly.
There has not yet been a White House ceremony to acknowledge the victory of the 2019 WNBA champion Washington Mystics. However, two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and other players on the Mystics said in 2017 they would not go to the White House to celebrate a championship season.
Trump has invited and then disinvited championship teams in the past who have had players vocally express their intentions to not attend a ceremony at the White House.
The 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles were disinvited just 24 hours before their White House visit, amid the controversy over the decision of some players to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest against police brutality against black Americans.
"They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country," the White House had said in a statement on the reversal.