WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has welcomed the manager and several players from the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to the White House.
Trump met with manager Joe Maddon and some Cubs on Wednesday, and he calls the Cubs a “great team.”
They gave him a team jersey printed with “45” in recognition of his status as the 45th U.S. president.
Maddon had said the visit was voluntary for players and not an official trip. Maddon said he was going to the White House out of respect for the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs and donated to Trump’s campaign.
The Cubs are in Washington to play the Nationals.
In January, the Cubs visited President Barack Obama at the White House after winning the World Series and shortly before his term ended.
Maddon said Tuesday it was voluntary for Cubs players and not an official trip.
“I don’t have any rules to begin with,” Maddon said. “I just want you to run hard to first base. As long as you run hard to first base, they can make up their own mind whether they want to go to the White House or not. As long as my pitchers work on defense, they can do whatever they want tomorrow.”
The White House said Tuesday night that Trump would participate in “a meet and greet with the Chicago Cubs.” The event is closed to the press, unlike typical White House visits by champion sports teams.
Amid questions about whether the NBA champion Golden State Warriors will visit Trump, Maddon said he isn’t making a political statement by going.
“I like the United States a lot, I like living here a lot and I like everything that it represents a lot,” Maddon said. “When you get a chance as a citizen to get to go to the White House, you go. I think you go. And whether you like the person that’s running the country or not, out of respect to the office itself, you go.”
Asked about Golden State, which has had star guard Stephen Curry and coach Steve Kerr make comments about Trump and not visiting the White House, Maddon said, “You’d have to talk to the Warriors. He added that “of course” it would be a tacit political endorsement if the Warriors chose not to go.
The Warriors released a statement after winning the NBA title saying that no decision has been made about an official White House visit.
Cubs ownership is connected to Trump through donations to campaigns to get him elected and Todd Ricketts being the president’s pick for deputy commerce secretary. Ricketts withdrew from consideration in April after being unable to resolve conflict-of-interest issues.
Members of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and national college football champion Clemson have visited the White House for championship celebrations since Trump took office.
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