Officials Were 'Surprised' When Trump Reached Out About Attending World Series but 'Of Course' Said Yes

The former president's appearance on Saturday subsequently raised eyebrows when he took part in a controversial game-day tradition.

melania and trump world series
Melania (left) and Donald Trump. Photo: Elsa/Getty

Former President Donald Trump appeared Saturday at Game 4 of the World Series in Atlanta. "Thank you ... for the invite" he wrote in a statement of Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

But really, baseball officials say, Trump invited himself.

He first expressed an interest in attending and then reached out, an MLB spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE, as had been reported elsewhere.

Braves CEO Terry McGuirk previously told USA Today that Trump "surprised" league staffers with his request to attend. "He called MLB and wanted to come to the game," McGuirk said last week. "We were very surprised. Of course, we said yes."

"We are apolitical,'' the Braves CEO said then. "We're open to anyone coming. It's great that he wants to come to our game.''

Trump's attendance at the game comes months after he called for a boycott of the MLB after it announced it would pull the All-Star Game from Georgia in protest of voting restrictions passed in the state.

"Baseball is already losing tremendous numbers of fans, and now they leave Atlanta with their All-Star Game because they are afraid of the Radical Left Democrats who do not want voter I.D., which is desperately needed, to have anything to do with our elections," the former president said said in a statement in April. "Boycott baseball."

2021 World Series
Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves hits a single against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in Game 1 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on Oct. 26.

His appearance on Saturday subsequently raised eyebrows when he took part in a controversial game-day tradition.

Both he and his wife, Melania, could be seen doing the "tomahawk chop" during the game between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros at Atlanta's Truist Park.

The chop, a tradition among Braves fans that grew in popularity in the 1990s, per The New York Times, is considered offensive by some Native Americans.

Commissioner Manfred has defended the gesture, telling reporters last week: "The Native American community in that region is wholly supportive of the Braves program, including the chop. For me, that's kind of the end of the story. In that market, we're taking into account the Native American community. ... In Atlanta, they've done a great job with the Native Americans. The Native American community is the most important group to decide whether it's appropriate or not."

The National Congress of American Indians, meanwhile, said that wasn't the case, releasing a statement on Wednesday calling on officials not to air footage of fans performing the gesture.

From the statement: "In our discussions with the Atlanta Braves, we have repeatedly and unequivocally made our position clear – Native people are not mascots, and degrading rituals like the 'tomahawk chop' that dehumanize and harm us have no place in American society."

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