View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 17, 1998
                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                              FLORIDA MARLINS

The East Room

4:42 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, welcome to the White House. Mr. Smiley, Mr. Leyland. Glad to be joined by the Executive Director of the Players Association, Don Fehr; Congressman Deutsch, Congressman Foley, Congressman Wexler. I think I should also say -- I see my EPA Administrator, Carol Browner, here. You should know that this administration has three members, along with Carol Browner, Attorney General Janet Reno and the Secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin who all grew up in South Florida. They're fairly happy about the outcome of the World Series. (Applause.)

You can tell that I am not running for office anymore -- I might not have said that here. (Laughter.) But we are delighted.

When I was first elected President I never could have dreamed that a lot of the things that would occur in the last five years have occurred. I didn't imagine then that millions of people would be using the Internet every day. When I was first elected President, there were only 50 sites, and they were all the province of physicists. I couldn't have imagined that the deficit would come from $300 billion to zero in five years. And I could not have predicted that the Florida Marlins would be here because they hadn't even played a game yet. (Laughter.) That is a truly astonishing achievement. (Applause.)

But what you did in a short time was a gift to your magnificent leader, Jim Leyland, for a lifetime in professional baseball. And all of us who are baseball fans of whatever team had to be happy about that.

And, of course, a manager can't win without talented players and without teamwork. Livian Hernandez dazzled us with his pitching and became only the second rookie ever to win the World Series MVP Award. Charles Johnson's defense earned him the Gold Glove as catcher for the third year in a row. Edgar Renteria's name will live in baseball history forever for ending one of the most exciting World Series in history with his two-out single in the bottom of the 11th. You know, those games got so long, some of us really did want them to go on forever after a while. (Laughter.)

Baseball I think made a huge comeback as America's national pastime in this World Series, thanks to the magnificent competition which you won deservedly.

You know, a lot of the players on this team are newcomers to our country, and so are many of the fans of the Florida Marlins. I suppose it's only right that the capital of the Americas would take its turn as the baseball capital of the world. But even more importantly, we should be proud of the example this team set, proving once again that people of very different ethnic backgrounds can play together and win together. Now, it may not be the precise same Marlin team that played the Indians last year that takes the field on opening day, but if the players keep the same spirit they'll be sure to be in the hunt again when the season comes to a close.

Congratulations. For all of us who grew up with baseball as a national pastime, you gave America a great gift last year that none of us will ever forget. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. SMILEY: Mr. President, thank you very much. On behalf of our owner, Wayne Huizenga; General Manager Dave Dombrowski, Jim Leyland's wife Katie, our players, our coaches, all of our front office staff back home, our officers, and especially our fans of South Florida, we were very excited to win the World Series, obviously, but we're very excited to be here today.

We thank you for this invitation to come to the White House. We're exhilarated by it. And hopefully, real soon we'll be able to do it again, after our next World Series Championship. Thank you. (Applause.)

Mr. President, we do believe baseball has made a comeback, and I believe that from our personal standpoint with the Florida Marlins, if I'm half as successful in balancing our budget as you were with America's, we will be back and we will win championships for years to come. (Applause.)

I have to give Bobby Bonilla some credit for that. He actually thought of it. (Laughter.) But, anyway, Mr. President, we would like to let you know, and the First Lady know, and your entire Cabinet, that you are in our prayers and we will be thinking of you as you have these tough decisions to make here shortly.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MR. LEYLAND: Thank you very much. Mr. President, I really don't know if you know this or not, but you are the most important person I ever played golf with in my life. (Laughter.) And I, too, would like to echo those sentiments --


THE PRESIDENT: We did. We we're partners. (Laughter.)

MR. LEYLAND: I also would like to echo those sentiments on behalf of the Florida Marlins. We are truly honored to be invited here today. It is a true pleasure for us. And we cannot thank you enough for the job that you have done in running this great country, the greatest country in the world, during your time as President of the United States. And that's from myself and all the players. Keep up the good work. And thank you for tremendous efforts in everything you've done for us. (Applause.)

And at this time, I would like to introduce one of our players who has a presentation for President Clinton. I know you're very familiar with this player, Mr. President, because he was a Baltimore Oriole for a short time -- (laughter) -- but I hate to tell you that we had to get him to South Florida before he could get that World Championship. Here's Bobby Bonilla. (Applause.)

MR. BONILLA: On behalf of the Florida Marlins, the World Champion Florida Marlins, I mean -- I'm kind of nervous here because this is a kid from the South Bronx getting ready to stand here and give the President of our United States a World Series jersey. So this is really exciting for me. And I wish all of us on that World Championship team could be here, but they are working on that '98 budget cut. (Laughter.) But this is a great bunch. (Laughter.) It's a great bunch. (Applause.) So here you go. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Since you mentioned our golf game, I want to make two brief points before we adjourn -- we're going to take a picture. (Laughter.) Number one is I want you to get another ring so you can quit about the time I quit, and then we'll go on the senior tour together. (Laughter.)

Secondly, if you really thought of that line about the budget, we have a position open in the speechwriting staff that you'd be welcome to anytime. (Laughter and applause.)

END 4:52 P.M. EST