President Obama welcomed the San Francisco Giants to the White House Monday to cheer the team’s 2010 World Series victory – its first in 56 years.
“This is a party,” he told the players, team executives, family members and every elected official who could wangle a seat.
He joked, bantered and praised the stars, noting that nine teams passed Tim Lincecum over before the Giants signed him.
“Now, with two Cy Youngs under his belt, everybody understands why he's called ‘The Freak,’” Obama said. “And after watching him pitch eight incredible innings -- including a stretch of 11 strikes in a row -- America learned that sometimes it's a good idea to bet on the skinny guy.”
He gazed through the players on the podium.
“And then there’s the guy with the beard,” he said, his eyes landing on Brian Wilsono.
“I do fear it,” he cracked.
The crowd erupted in cheers, whistles and applause, leaping to its feet when Obama introduced Willie Mays, who was a 23-year-old outfielder when the Giants won their last Series.
“Last year, after all the confetti had been cleaned up and the players had gone home, Willie Mays took the trophy back to the site of the old Polo Grounds in New York. And he visited students at P.S. 46, on the spot where the stadium once stood, and told them stories about playing stickball with the neighborhood kids all those years ago.”
Obama also praised the team for its work on behalf injured veterans and for its campaign to stop childhood bullying.
The team brought presents: A bat signed by all the players, a custom catcher’s mitt in silver and blue -- the colors of his hometown team, the White Sox -- and a Giants shirt numbered “44” for the forty-fourth president.
“All right, let’s strike the podium,” he said. “We’ll take a good picture.”