Ladies and Gentleman … The President of the United States
Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006, 1:13 pm
Talk about putting an exclamation mark on your Championship season. Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams, White Sox players and staff members (including me), visited the White House yesterday as the team was honored by President George Bush. View my Photo Album.
Everyone can read the newspapers for the general tone of the day and the President’s funny and kind remarks. He went out of his way to compliment Harold Baines, which meant a lot, even to the point of stopping on his way out of the room to shake his hand and whisper into Harold’s ear.
When the President mentioned Ed Farmer, one person in the room of 200 or so applauded. "Well, at least one person appreciates you being here," the President quipped. I have never seen Ed’s face so red.
Also in attendance were Mayor Daley, Senators Durbin and Obama, many of the cabinet (one of whom kept blocking my view) and even the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Carmona, who nine years ago served as one of our team physicians in Tucson.
Herm Schneider was talking to Dr. Carmona when I walked up to say hello. I mentioned that his credentials have gotten a lot nicer than what we gave him in Tucson in March 1998.
The team arrived in Washington on Sunday night and Monday am, staying at the grand Mayflower Hotel. Guys hung out in the hotel Sunday night, reconnecting. Monday around noon, everyone congregated in the lobby, where we tried to get as many guys sized for their World Series rings as we could. It was great to see Aaron Rowand, Carl Everett, Willie Harris and El Duque again, and we figured this was the best time to size everyone. Sometimes, it is difficult getting the attention of 25 guys. Amazingly, it was not so hard when you are sizing them for World Series rings.
We headed to the White House in two buses. Working our way past the security checkpoints, we entered the WH on the east side and climbed the stairs to the East Room, where the ceremony was held. WH staff walked everyone through how the event would run and then we all had a chance to walk through the first floor of the WH. It was unbelieveable and fun to see players and staff acting like tourists, snapping photos of the rooms and one another.
To prepare for the event, our players gathered in the State Dining Room where the President met with each guy.
The players entered the East Room and took the stage. The room was packed with guests and media, who were stationed at the back of the room. The President then entered, made his speech and then accepted a jersey from Paul Konerko and a jacket from Jermaine Dye.
After the official ceremony, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams, Paul, AJ and Jermaine went outside onto the north lawn and spoke with the media. We then headed to the buses and to the airports. One funny incident on the way out of the WH complex … there are security posts in the road that lower to allow vehicles to enter and exit. As our players bus began to cross these, they suddenly elevated and struck the bottom front of the bus. So members of the World Champion White Sox walked to the corner of Pennsylvannia Ave and waited for the other bus to go around the WH and pick them up. Had you happened to drive by at the right moment yesterday in DC, you could have seen Paul, AJ, Joe Crede, El Duque and others standing on the corner waiting for a bus.
Starting Friday, I will try to get back on the blog horse and begin giving you updates from Spring Training. I know I have promised (and disappointed) before this offseason, but now that Spring Training is about here, I am going to force myself to make time to send you news and notes each day. Hopefully, you will enjoy. Please feel free to email me with any questions or topics you would like me to cover or research on your behalf. Here’s to 2006!