Baseball

Broward ballplayer is center of attention as Obama celebrates the World Series champs

President Barack Obama is presented with a personalized Chicago Cubs baseball road jersey from South Florida’s Anthony Rizzo during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
President Barack Obama is presented with a personalized Chicago Cubs baseball road jersey from South Florida’s Anthony Rizzo during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. AP

President Barack Obama hosted his 86th and final sports team at the White House on Monday afternoon.

It appeared he enjoyed this one more than the others.

The Chicago Cubs made a special trip to Washington on Monday, getting their World Series celebration with the president just a few days before Obama is set to leave office.

On Monday afternoon’s party in the East Room, Obama cracked jokes about being a longtime fan of the rival team from the south side of Chicago — “among White Sox fans, I’m the No. 1 Cubs fan” — while also joking about how long it took the Cubs to get to the White House.

When the Cubs last won it all back in 1908, visiting the president wasn’t a thing.

“They said this day would never come,” Obama said. “None of my predecessors ever got a chance to say: Welcome to the White House, World Series champion Chicago Cubs.”

The Cubs took care of the 44th president, presenting him with a pair of jerseys — one home, one road — with No. 44 on the back. General manager Theo Epstein even gave the president a Cubs pardon for being a Sox fan.

Presenting the road jersey to the president was none other than Broward County’s own Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ All-Star first baseman who happened to wear No. 44.

Before the ceremony, Rizzo joked the back of the jersey should read ‘RizzObama.’

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“I made a lot of promises in 2008,” Obama said. “We’ve managed to fulfill a large number of them. But even I was not crazy enough to suggest that during these eight years we would see the Cubs win the World Series.”

Rizzo, who played his high school ball at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, said afterward he was moved when Obama got serious for a few moments saying “sports has the power to bring us together, even when the country is divided.”

 

How do you even caption this?

A photo posted by Anthony Rizzo (@arizz_44) on

Before the event, Rizzo said he hoped to be able to present the president with a No. 44 jersey. Obama called him “my fellow 44.”

“The president talking about how sports brings people together,” Rizzo told the Chicago Tribune. “No matter what's going on in this country, in the world, three or four hours of one any particular game can rally so many people together. I was pretty moved.”

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Obama, who said “this is the best swag I’ve got as president,” received plenty of cool gifts from the Cubs aside for the pair of jerseys — one of which will likely be claimed by the first lady who grew up a Cubs fan.

“She remembers coming home from school and her dad would be watching the Cubs game,” the president said of wife Michelle, “and the bond in the family and the meaning that the Cubs had for her in terms of a connection with her father and why it meant to much to her. I almost choked up listening to her. It spoke to how people feel about this organization.”

The president also received a pair of lifetime passes to Wrigley Field, a ‘W’ flag signed by the entire team, a framed ‘44’ panel from Wrigley’s manual scoreboard and a pair of customized, presidential Air Jordans.

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