The Red Sox Visited the White House
One would think that it was an April Fools’ Day joke when Jonny Gomes arrived at the White House to meet President Barack Obama while wearing a suit jacket decked out in stars and stripes, but nope.
Sticking out like a red spot on a blank white canvas, the patriotic blazer was a plan that Gomes had concocted not long after the World Championship Red Sox took their title last October. When the left fielder found out the team was invited to meet Obama—a tradition carried out for the nation’s top sporting teams—as part of their congratulatory prize, he shared a photo of the red, white, and blue jacket and promised his fans that he would have it ready for the big day.
And a big day it was.
During a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Obama congratulated the Red Sox team and owners for their third championship in the last decade, giving them the “most winningest championship record” in baseball.
As the team walked down the steps toward the lawn, “Sweet Caroline” played in the background. The crowd that was gathered for the ceremony appropriately chanted the lyrics that are usually heard echoing inside of Fenway Park during home games.
“I thought I invited the Red Sox to the White House, but there must have been a mistake because I don’t recognize all these clean-shaven guys,” Obama said, referencing the long, scraggly beards that the players kept for superstitious reasons during the entire season and until the playoffs. “Beards or no beards, it’s an honor to welcome the 2013 World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox, to the White House.”
Continuing the light jabs, Obama noted how many people in his administration were avid Red Sox fans, which made it hard for him as a White Sox supporter. “I have to say, y’all have some fanatical fans, and many of them occupy my administration and the White House. Look at my White House photographer, he has been thinking about this day all week,” Obama said.
Becoming more sincere and serious in his address to the team, throughout his speech Obama referenced the tragic deaths and injuries that were the result of the Boston Marathon bombings last April, and how the Red Sox determination to continue winning back-to-back games, and clinching a championship, were a symbol of resilience for the city last year. MBTA Transit Police Officer Dic Donohue, who was injured in the manhunt for the alleged bombing suspects, attended the ceremony.
“As a baseball fan, I appreciate their comeback season. But more importantly, as president, I’m grateful for their character and their embrace of the essential role they played in the spirit of that city,” Obama said. He said the team and the city were “one” through it all.
Obama said that David Ortiz put it best in the aftermath of the Boylston Street attack—without repeating his words—when he tried to lift the spirits of residents and fans by bellowing, “This is our f******* city.”
“Sometimes sports seems like its trivial, it’s just an entertainment, and then, every once in awhile, you’re reminded that sports represents something else and has the power to bring people together almost like nothing can,” Obama said. “All of you should be very proud of what you accomplished.”
Fittingly, the ceremony ended when Big Papi presented Obama with a custom jersey, and capped it off by taking a selfie with the Commander in Chief.
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) April 1, 2014