President Donald Trump recognized the Houston Astros on Monday for their first World Series win, an "incredible victory" that Trump said was even more special following the devastation Hurricane Harvey wrought on the Texas city.
The Astros left their spring training facility in West Palm Beach Monday morning to visit Washington, D.C., and the president.
Houston defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 last year to clinch the title. Trump, who played baseball in high school, declared it "was one of the greatest baseball games anybody has ever seen."
"It's really a reminder why baseball is our national pastime," he said at the White House.
Trump thanked the players for spending time with people who were displaced by Harvey's floodwaters, and for donating money.
"Our administration will continue to stand by the people of Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico, Louisiana, even Alabama and so many other places were affected and we're standing by all of them," said Trump, whose response to last fall's hurricanes was criticized by some.
The event was short. The team met with Trump in the White House's East Room.
Trump spoke, told jokes and shook players' hands as he listed their many accomplishments during the 2017 season.
Trump singled out some players by name, including American League MVP Jose Altuve. "Who could forget the amazing Jose Altuve? He is much taller than I thought," Trump said, directly addressing the 5-foot-6 second baseman and turning to shake his hand.
Astros owner Jim Crane, team President Reid Ryan and general manager Jeff Luhnow, along with players on last year's team, were in attendance.
The Astros presented Trump with a custom-made Astros jersey at the end of the meeting.
At least three Astros -- recently retired outfielder Carlos Beltran, pitcher Ken Giles and shortstop Carlos Correa -- were absent Monday. Beltran and Giles previously had cited family reasons for why they would skip the event.
Asked afterward about Correa's absence, Crane told reporters during an availability outside the White House that a "couple of the guys had family issues and spring break, so we didn't really review that with them."
Some of the players and managers said they were honored to be at the White House.
"Anytime you can get a chance to come and do something like this, it's going to be a great time," right fielder Josh Reddick said after the event. Manager A.J. Hinch said it was a "very special" day because just one Major League Baseball team a year gets to come to the White House.
"We'll forever remember this," Hinch said.
Pitcher Justin Verlander tweeted a photo of himself standing behind the president's lectern in the White House East Room.
The team is expected to fly back after the meeting and be back in Florida by 6 p.m. local time