There have been many memorable speeches given by Barack Obama in his relatively brief political career. But I think that none had the weight, the solemnity even, as the one given today as the WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK YANKEES visited the East Room of the White House.
I especially liked this part:
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the White House. And congratulations on being World Series champions. (Applause.) ...
For the millions of Yankees fans in New York and around the world who bleed blue, nothing beats that Yankee tradition: 27 World Series titles; 48 Hall of Famers — a couple, I expect, standing behind me right now. From Ruth to Gehrig, Mantle to DiMaggio, it's hard to imagine baseball without the long line of legends who've worn the pinstripes. Last season, this team continued that legacy, winning 103 games and leaving no doubt who was the best team in baseball.
Alright, this too:
That's what makes the Yankees special. It's not simply the names on the roster or the size of their trophy case — it's the people underneath the pinstripes that set this team apart. It's the players and coaches who shoulder a legacy unlike any other, but who share a belief that anybody blessed with first-class talent also has an obligation to be a first-class person. That's what being a Yankee is all about. That's why I want to congratulate this team — for winning the World Series, and for showing every young person what it means to be a true professional.
Did I ever tell you I have a casual rooting interest in the Yankees?
OK, enough about me. Here's a report of the event from NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley, who was there while I (grr) wasn't.
The White House East Room was as crowded as a rush-hour subway car this afternoon, when the New York Yankees showed up to celebrate their World Championship with President Obama.
“As you can see, we’ve got a few Yankees fans here in the White House,” the President said. He singled out Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. LaHood attended the same high school as Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
The President noted that last year’s World Series win was the Yankees’ first in nine years. “I think other teams would have been just fine with a spell like that. The Cubs, for example,” Obama joked. But he acknowledged that the Yankees and their fans expect a championship every year.
“That attitude, that success, has always made the Yankees easy to love, and let’s face it, easy to hate as well,” Obama said.
[Interjection from Ken: I didn't like that part.]
Obama praised the Yankees for their charitable works, and noted that team spent the morning visiting injured service members at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
“In the end, that’s what makes the Yankees special,” Obama said. “It’s the players and coaches who shoulder a legacy unlike any other, but who share a belief that anybody blessed with first class talent also has an obligation to be a first class person.”
The Yankees presented Obama with an autographed, pinstriped jersey: Number 27, to commemorate the team’s 27 championship titles. As Obama posed for pictures, a woman who works with the Yankees suggested he take the opportunity hold the championship trophy because, as a White Sox fan, he might not get another chance.
The President responded without blinking an eye: “I keep wondering why the other teams don’t root for you."