The World Series-winning Giants lightened the atmosphere at the White House Monday - on hand for a hearty congratulations from President Obama. The team presented him with a signed bat, glove and jersey.
Among the California pols in attendance were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, everybody. Have a seat, have a seat. This is a party. Welcome to the White House, and congratulations to the Giants on winning your first World Series title in 56 years. (Applause.)
I want to start by recognizing some very proud Giants fans in the house. We've got Mayor Ed Lee - (applause) - Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. (Applause.) We have quite a few members of Congress - I am going to announce one; the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi is here. (Applause.) We've got Senator Dianne Feinstein who is here. (Applause.) And our newest Secretary of Defense and a big Giants fan, Leon Panetta is in the house. (Applause.)
I also want to congratulate Bill Neukom and Larry Baer for building such an extraordinary franchise.
I want to welcome obviously our very special guest, the "Say Hey Kid" - Mr. Willie Mays is in the house. (Applause.) Two years ago, I invited Willie to ride with me on Air Force One on the way to the All-Star Game in St. Louis. It was an extraordinary trip. Very rarely when I'm on Air Force One am I the second most important guy on there. (Laughter.) Everybody was just passing me by - "Can I get you something, Mr. Mays?" (Laughter.) What's going on?
Willie was also a 23-year-old outfielder the last time the Giants won the World Series, back when the team was in New York. And even though there have been some great Giants teams since then, none of them had brought a championship back to the Bay Area.
And then this team came along. Manager Bruce Bochy once called them a bunch of “misfits and castoffs.” Let me take a look at these guys. (Applause.) Or as GM Brian Sabean put it, “We've got a lot of characters - (applause) - with a lot of character.”
One of these characters is Tim Lincecum. Where's Tim? I see him back there. (Applause.) Recognize the hair. (Laughter.) When Tim entered the draft five years ago, nine teams passed him over before the Giants picked him up. Nobody thought somebody that skinny - (laughter) - with that violent a delivery could survive without just flying apart. But now, with two Cy Youngs under his belt, everybody understands why he’s called “The Freak.” (Laughter.) Before Game 5 last year, Tim was so relaxed he was singing in the clubhouse. That’s how his teammates knew they were about to see something special. And after watching him pitch eight incredible innings - including a stretch of 11 strikes in a row - America learned sometimes it’s a good idea to bet on the skinny guy. (Laughter and applause.) So, you and me.
And then there’s the guy with the beard. Where's he? (Laughter.) I do fear it. (Laughter.) Have you guys seen the SportsCenter ad where it's - ESPN - where it starts doing a dance? (Laughter.)
Now, underneath Brian’s beard, and the spandex tuxedo - (laughter) - and the sea captain costume, and the cleats with his face on them - is also one of the most dominant closers in baseball. (Applause.) And I do think, Brian, you should know that Michelle was very relieved that the press was going to be talking about what somebody else wears here in the White House –(laughter) - so that it’s not just her making a fashion statement.
So even though this team is a little different - even though these players haven’t always followed the traditional rules, one thing they know is how to win. Maybe some of that wisdom comes from all the old-time greats who never won a Series, but know that being a Giant means being a Giant for life. And that’s why greats like Willie McCovey can often be found hanging around the clubhouse, pulling young players aside and offering them hitting tips. And the love goes both ways. Brian said, "What those players went through when they played, to not bring one home like we did, this is for them."
So for this team, winning the World Series means remembering their roots - especially when those roots run deep. Last year, after all the confetti had been cleaned up and the players had gone home, Willie Mays took the trophy back to the site of the old Polo Grounds in New York. And he visited students at P.S. 46, on the spot where the stadium once stood, and told them stories about playing stickball with the neighborhood kids all those years ago.
And the rest of this team has also made a point of giving back - whether it’s supporting wounded warriors and their families, or becoming the first professional sports team to join the “It Gets Better” campaign against bullying. (Applause.)
So that’s what this team is all about: characters with character. And so once again I want to congratulate this team and wish them all the best of luck in the rest of the season - unless the White Sox are in the World Series - (laughter) - which right now is not a sure thing.
Congratulations, everybody. (Applause.)
COACH BOCHY: Thank you, Mr. President. We have a few gifts here. But first, we want to thank you very much for having us here. We know you’re busy, and on behalf of the Giants family we’re honored and privileged for you to have us here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
COACH BOCHY: So a special day for us after having a special season. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: He’s really upset that I quit talking. (Laughter.)
(A gift is presented.)
Oh, that’s terrific. Thank you - 44. Thank you. Thank you, guys. (Applause.) What else do you got?
MR. CAIN: We just wanted to present you with a team-signed bat.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.
MR. CAIN: Your name - special edition. So it’s right there -
THE PRESIDENT: That is beautiful. Thank you so much. Thank you. Congratulations. Thank you. (Applause.) This is beautiful.
MR. NEUKOM: Mr. President, on behalf of the entire Giants organization, our investors - many of whom are here today - the front office - many of whom are also here today - and of course this amazing ball club with the trainers and the coaches and the players and the broadcast folks, on behalf of all of us, we thank you for making time for us and for your kind words. And we wish you well, and we’d like our general manager to make a presentation to you and the family, if he may.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, thank you.
MR. NEUKOM: A custom glove. Real deal.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, that’s what I need right there. (Laughter.)
MR. NEUKOM: White Sox colors.
THE PRESIDENT: I notice you put the silver and black on there. I appreciate that. That was good. (Laughter.) Thank you.
We should do something like every day. Look at all this loot. (Laughter and applause.) This is good. All right, let’s strike the podium. We’ll take a good picture.
END 4:25 P.M. EDT