Championship teams have visited the White House since the 1924 Washington Senators were honored by Calvin Coolidge, and the celebratory visits became a regular occurrence during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
But the tradition has been drenched in controversy and politics since Donald Trump became president.
Most teams have accepted the invite, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New England Patriots and the Clemson Tigers football team.
Others, notably the Golden State Warriors, have decided not to go because of their opposition to President Trump.
The Houston Astros, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series, recently received their invitation, and they officially announced their decision Wednesday: The Astros will go to the White House.
“This is a tradition and an honor,” Reid Ryan, the Astros’ president of business operations, told the Houston Chronicle. “For many people, this might be their only time to ever be invited to the White House.
“As the representatives of baseball and the World Series champs, when the White House calls and invites you to come up, it’s something that as an organization we felt both a responsibility and an obligation to be part of.”
Although the Astros have accepted the invitation, they have not worked out a time for the visit.
The Astros recently received their formal invitation to visit the White House this year, team president Reid Ryan said today. Because they don't make their trip to Baltimore to play the Orioles until the final series of the season, they may go to DC during spring training.
— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) January 3, 2018
The Astros do not play the Washington Nationals this season and will not be in the D.C. area until they play the Baltimore Orioles in late September.
This could lead to a trip to the White House during spring training.
After they won the World Series, several Houston players couldn’t hold back their excitement over the opportunity to visit the White House.
“That’s the most historic place in our country, it stands for a lot, it means a lot to a lot of people,” said George Springer. “It means a lot to a lot of people. If the team goes I’m going. I’m not going to say no. I understand the impact of it. … I understand the stuff that’s been happening. Yes there are things that have to change but there are always things that have to change. There isn’t anything that is ever going to be perfect. If the team goes I’ll go.”
Young Astros star Alex Bregman also chimed in, saying, “I’m going to do whatever Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa do,” pointing to the team leaders.
Houston will be the second World Series champions to visit the White House during the Trump administration as the Chicago Cubs made two visits last season, one with Barack Obama in office and the next with Trump.
A spring training trip to the White House could work out in the Astros’ favor as it wouldn’t provide a distraction like it would if it came in the middle of a regular-season series.
The Astros will have a target on their back as they kick off the 2018 season trying to repeat as World Series champs.
They open the season March 29 with a four-game series on the road against the Texas Rangers.
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