President Barack Obama must be the San Francisco Giants’ good luck charm.
For the third time in five years, the San Francisco Giants made the traditional trip to the White House so the president could honor the World Series victors.
“It seems like if they get in, they’ll probably win it,” Obama said. “They’ve got that ‘even year’ magic.”
With Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Monte Irvin at his side, Obama congratulated the team and highlighted Madison Bumgarner’s postseason performance. Bumgarner was the most valuable player in both the National League Championship Series and the World Series.
“Of course, there’s Game Seven,” Obama said, referencing Bumgarner’s World Series-clinching performance against the Kansas City Royals, when he threw five scoreless innings on two days’ rest to hold on to a 3-2 victory. “Which is what kids in their backyards dream about.”
Obama teased Bumgarner about his beer-chugging locker room celebrations before praising Hunter Pence for his All Star season – and for inspiring opposing fans to make signs that read things like “Hunter Pence eats pizza with a fork” and “Hunter Pence prefers baths.”
It wasn’t all about the Giants’ performance on the field. Obama praised the team for its community work, particularly its Junior Giants program. The Giants announced that they’re opening a Junior Giants Urban Youth Academy, which will provide kids from low-income communities a chance to play baseball.
“It’s the kind of initiative that fits right in with the goals of our My Brother’s Keeper initiative, to keep all of our young people out of trouble and give them the opportunity to stretch as far as their dreams will take them,” Obama said.
While many of the Giants were used to the White House trip, it was the first time for pitcher Tim Hudson, who signed onto the team in 2014.
“It was a long time waiting for this opportunity,” Hudson said. “And that’s the reason I came to San Francisco.”
Even for the players who have been three times, the White House hasn’t lost its appeal.
“For whatever reason, it feels even more special every time that I come,” Bumgarner said. “This time was more special than the last and it’s surreal to be here and get to see everything and be a part of it.”
With all their postseason success in recent years, the Giants have come to expect their biennial White House visit.
“It’s a tradition that we look forward to every two years, but this year we hope to make it an annual event,” joked Larry Baer, the Giants CEO, before presenting Obama with a gift.
The first time they visited, after winning the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers, the Giants gave Obama a signed No. 44 jersey. After winning again in 2012, sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four games, they gave Obama a signed jersey, baseball and bat. This year the team gave him another jersey, a signed baseball and, for symbolic reasons, a base.
“California’s been a pretty strong political base for you, so we thought it was only fitting that today we bring your base to you,” Baer said, handing Obama the signed base.
That caused one of the invited guests to shout out, “Four more years,” to which Obama demurred.