US President Donald Trump welcomed the 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox to the White House on Thursday but several star players and the manager skipped the visit to protest his policies.
“Congratulations on your incredible victory,” Trump said in brief remarks, during which he did not make any references to the absent members of the team.
He said the Red Sox, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one in last year’s World Series after winning 108 games during the regular season, were a “very special team.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora was among the members of the team who chose not to take part in the event, which the White House website briefly and mistakenly advertised in the morning as a visit by the “Boston Red Socks.”
Cora cited the Trump administration’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in his native Puerto Rico for his decision.
“Unfortunately, we are still struggling, still fighting,” Cora said of the situation at home.
“As such, at this moment, I don’t feel comfortable celebrating in the White House,” he said.
Several African-American players also decided not to attend including 2018 Most Valuable Player Mookie Betts, pitcher David Price and outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Several Latino players also skipped the trip including relief pitcher Hector Velazquez, a native of Mexico.
Outfielder J.D. Martinez, whose family came to the United States from Cuba, was among the players of Latino origin who did attend.
He gave Trump a Red Sox jersey bearing the president’s name and the number 18.
“Thank you for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be honored at the White House,” Martinez said.
Visits to the White House by championship-winning sports teams have become a political football since Trump’s election in 2016.
According to one tally, of the 20 teams who have won championships in professional or US college sports, half have not been invited to attend or declined an invite, most notably the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018 and the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles in 2018.
Several teams which did attend sent depleted squads.