WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump welcomed manager Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office on Wednesday, their second visit to the White House in eight months since winning the World Series.
Trump entertained the Cubs in an informal visit Maddon said was set up by the team's owners, the Ricketts family, which donated millions of dollars to his campaign. The Cubs were honored as World Series champions by President Barack Obama in his last week in office in January.
"This is a great team and they were actually here but they wanted to be here with Trump, right?" Trump said. "I just want to thank and I want to congratulate them."
Along with Maddon and Tom and Todd Ricketts, several players made the trip to the White House, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, pitcher Jon Lester, third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. Trump took photos with the World Series trophy and a Cubs jersey with his name and No. 45 — he is the 45th president — in gold on the back.
Maddon said Trump was complimentary in their "very, very quick" visit and that the pictures will be entertaining to show his grandchildren. General manager Jed Hoyer called it a "pretty cool life experience."
"It's always an honor when you get asked to go to the White House," Hoyer said before the Cubs' game against the Washington Nationals. "Regardless of your politics, it's a place that all Americans should be impressed by."
Almora laughed off a picture that made it looked like he was giving Trump the middle finger, saying, "There was definitely two fingers out there."
"It is not every day you get to meet the president of the United States," Almora said. "To meet two in one calendar year . it was pretty special for me."
When Trump asked members of the Cubs how the Nationals were doing, Rizzo invited him to the game Wednesday night down the street at Nationals Park. Todd Ricketts, who withdrew his name from consideration after being Trump's pick as deputy commerce secretary, said, "We're going to run into these guys in the playoffs you come down and you'll see them crumble."
The division-leading Nationals have lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of their three trips since 2012. The Cubs entered the day one game above .500, so Hoyer wasn't in the mood to add another bulletin-board quote.
"We've got to worry about our own house right now," Hoyer said.
Also in the room for Trump's photo-op with the Cubs were Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, a former Indiana senator who called himself a "die-hard" fan. Hoyer said there weren't a lot of private moments like during Obama's visit.
"It was a different experience," Rizzo said. "I think we all had a good time there. You get to go to the White House, it's very special. For this country, to be here, to be able to go to the White House twice in a year is something that I'll be able to carry with me the rest of my life."
AP reporter Catherine Lucey and AP freelance writer Ben Standig contributed.