President Trump was loudly booed and greeted with chants of “lock him up” when he attended Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night.
Trump and his wife Melania and an entourage that included Republican senators Lindsey Graham and David Perdue and Republican representatives Steve Scalise, Mark Meadows, Matt Gaetz and Liz Cheney arrived just as the baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros was beginning.
Few people initially noticed his entrance into a box behind home plate, but many of those who did began booing.
During the third inning, ballpark video screens carried a salute to US military service members that prompted cheers. The video then cut to Trump and his retinue, and the cheers turned to loud boos, described as “thunderous” in one press account.
Videos circulated widely on social media show thousands standing up, many chanting, “Lock him up, lock him up,” a mocking echo of the chants by Trump supporters at his campaign rallies, directed at whatever political opponent Trump was demonizing on that occasion.
Trump continued waving and appeared not to understand he was being booed. He apparently mouthed the word “Wow” when he learned what was happening. Later a sign reading “Veterans for Impeachment” was displayed behind home plate, and other fans held up a banner reading, “Impeach Trump.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he had discussed Trump throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, but that Trump had declined. Every US president since 1910 has thrown out the first pitch on Opening Day, the All-Star Game or a World Series game. Trump, a political coward who avoids face-to-face confrontation with critics except when they can be arrested and dragged away by force, has not.
The principal owner of the Nationals, Mark Lerner, asked Manfred not to offer Trump seating in the owner’s suite because he did not want to sit next to the president. Lerner had invited a prominent local chef and restaurant owner, Jose Andrés, to throw out the first ball, in what appeared to be a calculated insult to Trump.
In 2015, after Trump kicked off his campaign for the presidency with a diatribe against Mexican immigrants, Andrés cancelled plans to open a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Since then, he has publicly denounced Trump’s immigration policies and neglect of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The stadium crowd gave Andrés a loud ovation when he threw out the first ball.
There was some right-wing criticism of the crowd reaction to Trump, from both Democrats and media pundits. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware told CNN’s “New Day” program Monday, “I have a hard time with the idea of a crowd on a globally televised sporting event chanting ‘lock him up’ about our president. … I frankly think the office of the president deserves respect, even when the actions of our president at times don’t.”
MSNBC pundit Joe Scarborough denounced the “lock him up” chants as “un-American,” although he said that Trump had started the trend by encouraging them against Hillary Clinton. “We are Americans and we do not do that,” he said. “We do not want the world hearing us chant ‘Lock him up’ to this president or to any president.”
Most people in the world would probably support locking up any and all recent US presidents, as well as the current occupant of the White House, for their role in directing imperialist wars, drone missile assassinations and bloody military coups around the world.
The popular reaction at the ballpark was especially striking because it came on the same day that Trump announced on national television the raid by US special forces that caused the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Despite efforts by the White House and the entire corporate media, both pro-Trump and anti-Trump, to portray this as a hugely positive event, it evoked little popular enthusiasm.
If Trump had been walking the streets of the District of Columbia, where he won only 4 percent of the vote in 2016, his reception would likely have been far worse. But the ballpark crowd was mainly suburban and middle class, paying World Series ticket prices that started at $500 a seat.
Most of the audience booing Trump were not living in poverty or affected by his food stamp cuts or persecution of immigrants. But the widespread hostility toward Trump, expressed in unmistakable terms, gave a glimpse of the real feelings of millions of ordinary Americans.