The San Francisco Giants appeared at the White House with President Barack Obama this afternoon to be honored for their 2014 World Series victory, their third such appearance with Obama in the last five years.
“Welcome to the White House. For these folks I guess it’s welcome back,” Obama said to the gathered crowd.
The president praised the Giants’ accomplishment as the first National League team in nearly 70 years to win three championships in five years, particularly in an era with more playoff teams than ever before and with more parity between the teams.
The Giants have not lost a playoff series since 2003, winning the World Series every time they’ve made the playoffs since then — in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
“It seems like if they get in, they’ll probably win it,” Obama said. “They’ve got that even year magic, they’ve got that championship experience. I seem to be good luck for them, apparently.”
Most of the Giants 2014 team appeared alongside the president, along with San Francisco politicians U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Ed Lee, Giants CEO Larry Baer and manager Bruce Bochy.
“I am particularly honored to have a couple of trailblazing Hall-of-Famers here, Monte Irvin and ‘The Say Hey Kid,’ Willie Mays,” Obama said.
Irvin, who joined the New York Giants in 1949, and Mays, 1951, were among the first black players in Major League Baseball after the league was desegregated with Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Obama called out several of the Giants’ current players for their October performance, but drew particular attention to World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.
“Last October, Madison put together a string of performances that I think is pretty hard to believe. And I’m not talking about his locker room celebrations,” Obama said.
He said at 25 years old, Bumgarner is already one of the best pitchers in postseason history, with a 0.43 ERA in three appearances in the 2014 World Series, including five innings of scoreless relief in Game 7 on two days’ rest after pitching a complete game shutout in Game 5.
Meanwhile Bochy, who has coached the Giants to each of their World Series victories, “seems to be making his own case for Cooperstown” and is destined for the Hall of Fame, Obama said.
The Giants presented the president with three gifts — a baseball signed by Bumgarner, a Giants No. 44 jersey with Obama’s name on it, and a base signed by the entire team.
Baer said as he handed Obama the base, “California’s been a pretty strong political base for you, so today we thought it was only fitting that we bring your base to you.”
The president also honored the Giants for their charity work off the field, including the Junior Giants program and new efforts to create an Urban Youth Academy in coordination with San Francisco State University to provide opportunities for San Francisco’s underserved youth.
Baer said the Junior Giants program helps 23,000 youth play baseball who would not be able to otherwise.
“The game of baseball really has the ability to be much more than a game. It’s really a shared story, the way we look at it in San Francisco,” Baer said.
The Giants have construction worker fans watching alongside CEOs and grandmothers watching alongside 20-something hipsters, Baer said.
“We have a lot of those 20-something hipsters,” he said.
Scott Morris, Bay City News