WASHINGTON D.C. — Madison Bumgarner, Bruce Bochy and a small group of Giants employees walked across the front lawn of the White House and straight to a podium set up for a brief press conference. At this point, you figure Bochy, Bumgarner and most of the Giants don’t even need a guide to get around the country’s most famous residence.
For the third time in five years, the Giants entered the gates of the White House and met with President Barack Obama to celebrate a championship. The President joked that this is becoming a familiar affair and added, “I seem to be good luck for them.”
Last fall’s championship was more about a historic left arm than luck, and after a ceremony in which he was front and center, Bumgarner, the World Series MVP, said this day remains a huge one, even if you’re going through it for the third time.
“For whatever reason, it feels even more special every time we come,” Bumgarner said. “This time is more special than the last. It’s pretty surreal.”
As Bumgarner spoke into a bank of microphones outside the White House, rain softly falling, Tim Hudson looked around at the house behind him. Hudson is 14 years older than Bumgarner but this was his first trip.
“It’s a thrill for all of us, but especially for me,” he said. “I spent a long time waiting for this opportunity and this is why I came to San Francisco.”
Hudson was one of many first-timers, and that list included Monte Irvin, the 96-year-old who was one of the first African-Americans to play Major League Baseball. Irvin was joined by Willie Mays and the two legends sat side-by-side a few feet away from the president.
President Obama kept his speech short, but as usual he threw in plenty of light-hearted references to the previous year’s run. The “Hunter Pence Signs” were mentioned, along with Bumgarner’s affinity for celebratory beer showers.
“Last October, Madison put together a string of performances that I think is hard to believe,” President Obama said. “And I’m not talking about his locker room celebrations.”
Bumgarner came down to the stage at one point to present President Obama with a signed baseball, and he also was given a personalized jersey and a signed base. The president praised the Giants for becoming a dynasty in a time of parity around the game.
“I mean, even the Cubs have a shot this year,” he cracked. “But all that parity seems to be wiped away when the Giants get into the playoffs.”
In what was a nice touch, the president mentioned several lesser-known members of the championship cast, including long man Yusmeiro Petit, second baseman Joe Panik and the Core Four in the bullpen.
Two years after unveiling the news about a garden being planted at AT&T Park, President Obama revealed that the Giants are teaming with MLB and San Francisco State University to create what Larry Baer called “an urban youth academy.”
The Giants got a brief tour of the White House and got to shake the president’s hands, and show off their best suits in the East Room of the White House. Gregor Blanco wore pink, Michael Morse joined from the Marlins and wore a checkered blazer, and Santiago Casilla rocked a bright blue suit. They all paled in comparison to vice president of ballpark operations Jorge Costa. President Obama saw his eight-button lavender and yellow ensemble and declared that he would wear a similar suit on his last day in office.
The Giants hope to return once more before that day comes.
“It’s great to be here, it’s great to see the president again,” Bochy said. “This is getting familiar but trust me, it’s not getting old. It’s an honor to be here.”