12:07 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: What a big deal being here for the World Champions.
Please, have a seat. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Well, welcome to the White House — (applause) — the 2021 World Champion Atlanta Braves! (Applause.)
Got some guys over there too.
I was telling the guys in — back in the other side of the building that I married a Philly girl. (Laughter.) And she’s smarter than I am, and she’s hell of a lot better looking. And like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else (inaudible). (Laughter.) And these guys beat the Phillies last night 8-7. (Laughter.) I love them.
But, Boss, I thought I was going to be quarantined today. (Laughter.)
Anyway, I have to be careful how nice I am to these guys today, and especially since last night. (Laughter.)
We’re joined by so many friends from Atlanta, starting with the former Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. Stand up, Keisha. (Applause.) Keisha now works full-time in the Executive Office Building with me, and she’s the best. She’s the best. And she — she took over from Cedric Richmond, who was, as he says, a Morehouse Man, played baseball at Morehouse. He’s now at the Democratic State — National Committee.
We’ve also got Mayor Andre Dickens.
MAYOR DICKENS: Right here.
THE PRESIDENT: There you go, Mayor. (Applause.)
But I want you to know — Lisa Cupid, the Cobb County Commissioner, she’s got the stadium. (Applause.)
And from the Georgia Congressional delegation, Representatives Bourdeaux, Williams, and Carter are all here. Stand up, guys. (Applause.)
Atlanta is a great sports city — American sports city. And the Braves are a big reason for that.
This team has literally been part of the American history for over 150 years. The only franchise to field players in every single season since pro baseball began in
1870 [the 1870s]. It’s pretty amazing. (Applause.)
My grandfather was an All-American football player at Santa Clara, and he was a newspaper guy up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His name was Ambrose Finnegan. And when it was the Boston Braves, he didn’t like it. (Laughter.) But at any rate, that’s another story. (Laughter.)
They’ve all — this team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron, the Home Run King and 25-time All-Star — (applause) — 25 times. And Hank Aaron shattered a lot of records, but he shattered them in racism as well, with dignity and with class.
And, you know, it’s been celebrated for success in the ‘90s — five times World Series — five times World Series in a decade; 14 straight division titles. And now, the Braves will be forever remembered for the unstoppable, joyful run that this team made last year — and, I would say, “improbable” run at the time.
It was a rough start, plagued by injuries. The All-Star break, not one day of a winning record. Given a 0.4 percent chance of winning on CNN. No, I’m only joking. (Laughter.) I listen to all the percentages on CNN, you know? (Laughter.) My batting average isn’t nearly as good.
At any rate — but the franchise never quit. It never gave in. You rebuilt the whole outfield practically overnight. Play by play, inning by inning, you grinded and you ground it out, and you did it together.
You made the playoffs and beat the Brav- — the Brewers and the Dodgers. And then you beat the Astros to win it all. Forever known as the “Upset Kings of October.” (Applause.) One of the greatest — one of history’s greatest turnarounds. First title in 26 years.
But none of it came easy. People counted you out. Heck, I — I know something about being counted out. (Laughter.) And I know in Georgia, you show up when it counts. (Applause.) When it counts. You never give up. You never give in. As my mother would say, “You keep the faith.”
This team proved that Hank Aaron — what Hank Aaron once said. He said, “There is no shortcut in life. You have to take it one step at a time and work hard. And you have to give it — give back.”
Well, you know, this team has done it all. And that’s what this team does on the field and off the field through the community service: it gives back, channeling its reach — its reach and resources to feed the hungry, support our veterans, give kids a safe place to play, and so much more.
Bringing people together, inspiring us to do better by the power of your example — that’s sports. That’s America. And that’s why I’m honored to host the 2021 Braves who are here at the White House. Fellas, congratulations.
And, Mr. Chairman, the floor is yours. (Applause.)
MR. MCGUIRK: The first thing I would say on behalf of all of my brethren behind me is: Wow. What a thrill to be here at the White House.
I want to start off paying a little bit of a compliment to our team, as President Biden has just done. They played an extra-innings game last night. We got in hours late from when — they’ve been doing a lot of traveling. You cannot believe, at this point in the season, how tired they are. They won 8-7 in the 11th inning last night. (Applause.)
These guys — but — but what —
THE PRESIDENT: I slept in the guest room. (Laughter.)
MR. MCGUIRK: As the President says, this group never quits. It is unbelievable. It is the metaphor of how we got here today.
We’re — this group shows up, does their job every day. It’s an amazing group of men. And — (applauds) — yeah. (Applause.)
Back to President Biden. Thank you so much for your kind remarks. On behalf of the entire Braves organization and all of our players, we want to thank you officially for hosting us and celebrating the 2021 World Series championship here at the White House. We’re pinching ourselves.
And, Mr. President, I’d like to thank one of our Atlanta friends, Keisha Bottoms — former mayor of Atlanta who is on your staff. Her helpfulness in getting this done made it happen. Thank you, Keisha. (Applause.)
And as the President so aptly talked about, last year’s championship was so special, because on August 1st, we were playing below .500 ball, and we were no one’s pick for the postseason.
But thanks to some savvy moves by Alex at the trade deadline, which we know well, and the great leadership on the field by Snit, we came back and we won our fourth straight division title, beating three incredible teams that the President has just outlined — the Brewers, the Dodgers, and the Astros — on our way to winning the 2021 World Series championship.
You know, a little aside: We still think we had a special angel looking over us, having our recently passed friend, Hank Aaron, pulling the strings from on high. There’s no question Hank was a part of what we did. And he’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here. (Applause.)
In a few days, Mayor Dickens — a few days after we landed back in Atlanta, we welcomed 2 million fans along the parade route, which showed how the team brought everyone back together after the very trying years of the COVID years.
And so, finally, Mr. President, we have a very young and very talented roster, and we hope this isn’t a one-and-done visit to your home. (Laughter.) In short, we plan to be back. (Applause.)
And now I’d like to invite our President of Baseball Operations, Alex Anthopoulos, and our manager, Brian Snitker, to present a special gift to the President from our team. (Applause.)
(The President is presented with an Atlanta Braves jersey.) (Applause.)
12:18 P.M. EDT