Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki donned a "Make America Great Again" hat during the team's visit to the White House on Monday to celebrate its World Series victory.
He also got a big hug from President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE while wearing the red "MAGA" baseball cap as he put his arms up to acknowledge the crowd.
Trump put his hands on Suzuki's shoulders and hugged him from behind.
“I love you all,” Suzuki told the crowd. “I love you all. Thank you.”
“What a job he did. I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Trump said to laughter in the crowd.
Trump, flanked by First Lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMcCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral GOP leader's remarks on Fox underscore Trump's power White House orders release of Trump records to Jan. 6 committee MORE, addressed an enormous crowd on the South Lawn of the White House, cheering the team for capturing “the hearts of baseball fans across the region and across the country” during the past season.
“America fell in love with the Nats baseball,” Trump said. “That’s all they wanted to talk about – that and impeachment. I like Nats baseball much more.”
“You reminded us all why baseball is truly America’s past time,” the president continued.
Most of the Nationals players and coaches were in attendance on Monday for the White House ceremony, which has become a divisive tradition in the Trump era.
Eight key Nationals contributors were not included in the White House list of attendees and missed Monday’s celebration. Those absent included star third baseman Anthony Rendon, center fielders Victor Robles and Michael A. Taylor, infielder Wilmer Difo and pitchers Sean Doolittle, Joe Ross, Javy Guerra and Wander Suero.
Doolittle said over the weekend that he would decline the visit, citing Trump’s rhetoric. Doolittle and his wife work with Syrian refugees and have been outspoken in support of the LGBTQ community and on other social issues.
"There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country," Doolittle told the Washington Post.
Trump recognized various members of the team by name and welcomed them to the podium with him, including Suzuki and Ryan Zimmerman, who thanked Trump for inviting him, for keeping the country safe and for “continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.”
Zimmerman gifted Trump a personalized Nationals jersey, with the number 45 on the back.
Trump cheered what he described as a record crowd at Monday’s event and recognized a number of Cabinet officials and baseball fans there.
“Just another record for the Nats,” said Trump, who throughout his remarks narrated key moments from the Nationals’ postseason.
A Marine band played “Baby Shark” – the walk up song for outfielder Gerardo Parra that has become a signature tune for the team – at the start of the event.
“It became the anthem for the Nats fans everywhere,” Trump said. “That turned out to be a very, very powerful little tune.”
The White House later said that roughly 5,300 people attended Monday's event.
The Nationals celebrated their victory with a parade in Washington on Saturday that attracted throngs of fans.
The Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in Game 7 of a nail-biter series that concluded the day before Halloween last week.
Trump, who rarely attends sporting events, made his first appearance at Nationals Park for Game 5 of the series. Trump was met with boos from the crowd when the announcer introduced the president and first lady.
--This report was updated at 3:32 p.m.