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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 8, 1999
                      REMARKS BY THE VICE PRESIDENT
                              The East Room
                             The White House

5:55 P.M. E.S.T.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. On behalf of the President and the First Lady welcome to the White House. Congratulations. What a thrilling accomplishment. You will remember this all your lives. And let me begin by acknowledging a few of the distinguished guests who are here, my friend, Mayor Jim McGreevey of Woodbridge, New Jersey. Glad you're here, Jim. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

And, as mentioned, Steve Keener, the President of the Little League and Mike Gaynor, manager of the team. I'm glad that you both are here. (Applause.) And they're going to say a few words in just a moment along with R.J. Johansen who is going to come up here and say just a few words.

I want to acknowledge the Baltimore Orioles organization, and I'll mention a couple of them in my comments here in a minute. But I know from personal experience it is a great organization that cares about young people. And I just really want to say what everybody who comes into contact with them says, they're a great bunch of people.

Now, I know that all Little League players take a pledge when they join the league. And it's one that I think is worth repeating today. "I will play fair and strive to win, but win or lose I will always do my best." Well, this past August you did your best and your best turned out to be the very best in the entire world. Congratulations on a fantastic victory. (Applause.)

Your stunning 12 to 9 victory over Kashiwa, Japan brought the world series trophy back to the United States for the first time since 1993 and back to New Jersey for the first time since 1975. That is a remarkable accomplishment. So, congratulations. (Applause.)

Congratulations to the young men from Toms River, New Jersey. You have made your hometown, your state and your nation very proud. We celebrate your accomplishments, because what a thrilling series it was.

I've heard some sports writers call 1998 the greatest year in sports, from Michael Jordan's final shot, to John Elway's first Super Bowl victory, to the home run chase with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. But for all the highlights we've seen this past year, none was more exciting than Toms River's World Series win and Chris Cardone's grandslam home run. Congratulations again. (Applause.)

Now, I know that coming here to the White House, you know, this is probably sort of old hat for you guys by now. I know that things changed after the big win. You got to go on the Rosie O'Donnell show with movie stars. You got a private party at the All Star Cafe with Steven Baldwin. You got a parade through downtown. People started asking you for your autographs. As a matter of fact, I'd like to collect a few myself after this ceremony. (Laughter.)

And now, who would have thought you'd be here in the White House and you'd get to meet B.J. Surhoff and Mike Bordick, and incidently, the Vice President of the United States of America. (Applause.)

I do bring you greetings from the President. As you know, the untimely passing of King Hussein and the funeral in the Middle East where all the world leaders are present, required his attendance there. I feel especially honored to be able to preside over this event because this really is a great, great event.

But you know, for everything exciting and wonderful that happened to you after the game the most important thing happened during the game. That is when you became the best team in the world. You didn't do it because you knew all of this stuff would happen afterwards, you did it because that's what a team does, that is what baseball is all about; and because it was fun.

And I said at the beginning that you'll remember this all your lives, when you get old enough to have grandchildren I guarantee you will find opportunities, more than once, to tell your grandchildren about winning the Little League World Series, especially in the exciting way that you did.

So, I want to congratulate your manager, Mike Gaynor, for keeping it fun, even as the pressure mounted. And as Mike Bordick and B.J. Surhoff remind us today, 75 percent of all major leaguers once played little league baseball, including the likes of Cal Ripken, Nolan Ryan and Mike Schmidt.

But not everyone who plays little league becomes a professional ballplayer, and you shouldn't worry if your baseball dreams don't come true. After all, our National Security Advisor here, Sandy Berger, and our Secretary of Defense, Bill Cohen were both once star little leaguers. And although they never made the pros I think it's safe to say that part of their later success in life and the success of so many others came from the lessons that they learned on the little league diamond.

So, once again, congratulations your country is very proud of you, and maybe we can see Toms River back in the White House next year. I know you're already working on that.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce someone who has helped so many of our children in America enjoy the game of baseball and learn the lessons that it has to teach us, Steve Keener, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League baseball. (Applause.)

-END- 6:01 P.M. E.S.T