The Cubs visited Washington on Monday to celebrate their World Series win and were greeted downtown by a guy from Chicago.
Just four days before he leaves office, President Barack Obama welcomed the 2016 Cubs team for a ceremony at the White House. The Cubs’ epic seven-game, extra-innings comeback victory over the Cleveland Indians last year ended the longest World Series drought in baseball history.
“They said this day would never come,” Obama said to laughter as he took the podium.
“Here is something none of my predecessors ever got to say: Welcome to the White House, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.”
Major sports champions are regularly feted at the White House by the sitting president, but this meeting was notable for the outgoing president’s Chicago roots. Obama acknowledged that he may not feel the “visceral joy” of a Cubs victory like some of his staffers ― he is, in fact, a White Sox fan ― though he noted how momentous an occasion it was for anyone to host the Cubs in the White House.
“It took you long enough,” Obama joked, noting that the team last won the series when Teddy Roosevelt was president. “And I’ve only got four days left.”
Many people in the Cubs organization apparently wanted to make the White House meeting happen before Obama packed up his things on Friday. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, an Obama supporter, was “the key to getting the deal done” after Obama initially extended the invitation. (Her brother, Tom Ricketts, has been plucked by President-elect Donald Trump for a post in the Commerce Department.)
In a loose ceremony punctuated with a lot of laughter, Obama praised much of the Cubs roster, the Ricketts family, manager Joe Maddon, who he called “masterful,” and Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president for baseball operations and former Red Sox general manager. Obama joked about Epstein’s ability to end brutal baseball droughts.
“He takes an organization that’s been wandering in the wilderness and delivers them to the promised land. I’ve talked to him about being DNC chair,” Obama deadpanned. “But he’s decided wisely to stick to baseball.”
Alluding to Obama’s White Sox allegiance, Epstein offered the president “a midnight pardon for all your indiscretions as a baseball fan. We welcome you with open arms today into the Cubs family.”
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who wears number 44, presented Obama with a personalized Obama 44 Cubs jersey.