Programming note: Live coverage of the Giants' trip to the White House will air Thursday morning at 11 a.m. on CSN Bay Area.
WASHINGTON D.C. -- Buster Posey was recovering from a devastating leg injury when the Giants visited the White House in 2011, so the 2013 visit was his first.
As Posey spoke to reporters that day, he flashed a wide smile.
“This is hopefully not a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” he said.
Two years later, Posey and the Giants are once again returning to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the visit, which will air live on CSN Bay Area at 11 a.m. Thursday, remains as special as ever for many Giants.
“It’s going to be really cool to be back at the White House and be there for the third visit,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s a special memory to be at the White House and celebrate what happened last year and have the president honor you. That’s a really neat thing. The players had a great time in 2010 and 2012 and we were treated so well. Players talk about it for days after.”
Bochy expects players to be talking about the trip the day before, too, saying the buzz usually starts as the team boards the flight to Washington. This year’s visit comes on an off day before six games in Philadelphia and New York, and Bochy said it’s great for players to “take it all in.”
“It’s a special moment when you get to meet the president of the free world,” Bochy said. “Very few people (have that) happen to them.”
That makes many in the Giants clubhouse part of a very small group who will have met a sitting president three times. Matt Cain will fly to Washington D.C. after a rehab start in Arizona and will take part in his third ceremony, along with fellow starter Madison Bumgarner and bullpen anchors Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez. (Tim Lincecum is flying straight to Philadelphia to prepare for his Friday start.)
The wide eyes will come from others, like second baseman Joe Panik, who is excited about his first White House visit.
“You always see -- whether it’s the Super Bowl champion or the NBA champion or the World Series champion -- those teams that get to meet the president,” Panik said. “Meeting the president will be something special. You can’t take it for granted.”
Panik is one of many young Giants who played a two-hour drive from the White House while with Double-A Richmond, but minor leaguers don’t generally have the time to go sightseeing. Matt Duffy got a tour of the capital building one time but has never visited the area right around the White House. Chris Heston said he’s big into history but is making his first trip to D.C.
“I’m blessed to be able to take that trip with these guys,” he said. “The experience is going to be awesome and the reason we’re going makes it that much more special.”
The first-timers will be joined by a player who might be more familiar with the White House than any big leaguer. Justin Maxwell’s father was the dentist for presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Maxwell got to visit the White House during the Clinton presidency and Camp David during Bush’s first term.
Maxwell said he’s not sure how he’ll feel when he walks back through the heavily-guarded gates.
“I’ll wait and see,” he said. “It’s pretty cool, especially for these guys who have done it three times. That’s elite territory.”
Maxwell and Nori Aoki will visit while having not actually won the title that got the team to the White House, and that’s not that unusual. In 2013, Kensuke Tanaka and Jeff Francoeur had brief Giants cameos that coincided with the White House visit, and both somehow ended up front and center when the Giants lined up behind President Barack Obama for a photo. Maxwell is taking the opposite approach.
“I’m staying out of all the photos,” he said, pointing out that the 2014 Giants were the ones who made the trip possible.
One of those players, Michael Morse, is expected to join the team since the Marlins are also off on Thursday. The ceremony is scheduled to start around 11:15 PT, and Bochy and the Giants will present President Obama with custom gifts. Four years ago the collection included a customized glove in White Sox colors (for a president from Chicago) and two years ago the Giants gave him a signed World Series ball and bat.
“He’s gotten just about everything from us,” Bochy joked. “I know he’s going to get some gifts, but I’m not sure what he’s going to get.”