For the first time since 1888, the Chicago Cubs visited the White House on Monday to meet President Barack Obama and celebrate the team's first World Series title since 1908.
"They said this day would never come," Obama said to open his remarks, per the ESPN broadcast, amid laughter and applause in the White House. "Here is something my predecessors never got to say: Welcome to the White House the World Series champion Cubs."
I will say, it took you long enough. I've got four days left. Eight years ago, I made a lot of promises, some of which we've accomplished. But not even I was crazy enough to promise that the Cubs would win the World Series. But I did say there's nothing false about hope. The audacity of hope.
The president spoke more about hope and how it brought together fans of the Cubs throughout the years, per CBS News:
He also had a few jokes about the team. He noted that he and catcher David Ross were each on a yearlong retirement tour over the past year. He praised Anthony Rizzo for putting the ball from the final out in Game 7 in his back pocket, calling it "excellent situational awareness." He called manager Joe Maddon a tactical genius, joking that he even smartly made it rain in Game 7.
He also talked about how Theo Epstein, the team's president of baseball operations, has ended droughts for the Boston Red Sox and Cubs before jokingly offering him a job, per CBS News:
As for that previous visit, the Cubs were known as the White Stockings when they last visited the White House in 1888. Team president Albert Spalding "made arrangements for a postseason world tour," per Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, and wanted "a formal proclamation from President Grover Cleveland endorsing the tour."
Cleveland did meet with the team, though he declined to sign the letter it presented him "proclaiming the greatness of the White Stockings and the traveling All-Stars."
"We will make no such demands today," Epstein joked at the podium.
Obama was much more willing to endorse the Cubs, even moving up this ceremony so he could meet with the team before his second term as president ends Friday and Donald Trump takes office, per Lynn Sweet and Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Obama was a longtime resident of Chicago and is famously a Chicago White Sox fan, a fact that wasn't lost on the Cubs and Javier Baez:
Indeed, the Cubs couldn't help but bring up that fact during the proceedings. Epstein and the Cubs jokingly offered Obama "a midnight pardon" despite his years of White Sox fandom and welcomed him into the ranks of Cubs fans. They also presented him with a No. 44 jersey, a No. 44 tile from the team's scoreboard and a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field for him and his family.
The president enjoyed the banter and was appreciative of the gifts, per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune:
There are also ties to the Cubs in his family. The president told a story about first lady Michelle Obama, a lifelong Cubs fan, per CBS News:
As for the rest of the visit, the Cubs took some time to visit the White House before the ceremony. Willson Contreras posted the following picture with teammates:
Ross did the same by the podium:
Addison Russell took a different approach, dropping a dab:
It was a special day for the organization and its fans, and it was also special as Obama's last such meeting with a team in his tenure. Before he closed his remarks, he took a moment to reflect on the greater impact sports can have on society.
"Sports has the power to bring us together even when we are divided," he noted. "It is a game, and it is celebration, but there is a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here."
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