Calling their baseball campaign “a dream season,” President Reagan honored the World Series champion Dodgers Wednesday in a crisp autumn ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, telling them: “I hope for each of you this dream lasts for a long time.”
Dressed in suits and ties before an audience that included former Dodger star Roy Campanella, the Dodgers stood on a platform with Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan as the President praised them for defying the experts who had counted them out before the season began.
“I guess it just never occurred to this bunch that someone else was supposed to win,” Reagan said.
“Well, you Dodgers not only wanted this title badly, but you went for it with all you had. It’s the kind of year that would have made even Harry Houdini jealous.”
Reagan said he wanted to complete the ceremony quickly, because the team’s manager, Tom Lasorda, “volunteered to cook lasagna and I want to give him enough time in the kitchen. You never want to rush an artist.” On a more serious note, Reagan told Lasorda: “Perhaps you best summed up this year’s Dodger season when you said after it was all over, ‘This just shows what can happen when you want something bad enough.’
“You did it, and you did it with guts and determination.”
Pitcher Orel Hershiser, voted the most valuable player in both the playoff series victory over the New York Mets and the 5-game World Series victory over the Oakland Athletics, made a presentation on behalf of his teammates.
Appearing a tad more nervous than he ever has on the mound, Hershiser gave Reagan a baseball bat “with Mr. President’s name on it.” Steadying himself, he clarified what he had said. The bat was engraved with the name Ronald Reagan.
“I had a lot of success in the World Series and the playoffs, and you’ve had a lot of success as a President,” Hershiser said. “And I think the main reason is that we look to a higher power and we both believe in God. And I thank God that you’re the President and I thank God for this ballclub and the great year that we had.”
When Hershiser was finished, Reagan thanked him for the bat and gripped it, quipping: “I just can’t wait until the Congress gets back.”
Recalling that Nancy Reagan had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch of the World Series, Lasorda asked her to resume pitching “when you’re through with your job here.”
During a private tour of the Oval Office, the Dodgers gave Mrs. Reagan a “World Champions” T-shirt. While many of the players stood nervously silent throughout the tour, second baseman Steve Sax was coaxed into doing his imitation of the President for the President. He tilted his head just so, saying: “Well, it’s a pleasure.”