The San Francisco Giants appeared at the White House with President Barack Obama Thursday 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.
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"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.
Full text of President Obama's speech:
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Have a seat, have a seat. Welcome to the White House. For these folks I guess it’s welcome ¬back. (Laughter and applause.) This is the third time in the last five years -- the World Champion, the San Francisco Giants! (Applause.)
We have a lot of Giants fans in the house. (Applause.) We’ve got some members of Congress, including Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) Mayor Lee is here. (Applause.) The outstanding CEO of the Giants, Larry Baer. (Applause.) I am particularly honored to have a couple of trailblazing Hall of Famers here -- Monte Irvin. (Applause.) And the “Say Hey Kid” -- Willie Mays. (Applause.) And, of course, we’ve got a manager who seems to be making his own case for Cooperstown, Bruce Bochy. (Applause.)
So this is quite a crew that we’ve got up here. They have won three titles in five years -- probably only matched soon by the Blackhawks, who are -- but that’s hockey so I’ll -- (Laughter.) This is the first National League team in almost 70 years to do that. They have not lost a playoff series since 2003. And they’re doing it all at a time when we’ve got more playoff teams than ever, more parity than we’ve seen in a long time. I mean, even the Cubs have a shot this year. (Laughter.) And I continue to hold out hope that the White Sox can turn it around.
But all that parity seems to wipe away whenever the Giants make the playoffs. I mean, the truth is, it seems like if they get in, they’ll probably win it. They’ve got that “even year” magic. They’ve got that championship experience. I seem to be good luck for them. (Laughter and applause.) And I guess they do have one other thing -- Madison Bumgarner. (Applause.)
So 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. (Laughter.) Twenty-five years old and is already one of the best pitchers in postseason history. For his career, he’s 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA in the World Series. Last year, he set a new record for postseason innings pitched.
And of course, there’s Game 7, which is what kids in their backyards dream about. Madison came in from the bullpen on just two days’ rest after throwing a complete game shutout in Game 5. He throws five more scoreless innings to wrap up the title with one of the greatest performances in World Series history. As a courtesy to my Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, I won’t mention the team he beat. (Laughter.) He’s from Kansas City. (Laughter.)
But you can’t win a World Series -- or you certainly can’t win three of them -- just with one guy. The Giants have those pillars that all great teams have. Buster Posey. Matt Cain. Tim Lincecum couldn’t be here today, but obviously has made an enormous contribution. The Core Four out of the bullpen.
And then there are guys like Yusmeiro Petit, who set a world League record by retiring 46 consecutive batters during the season. (Applause.) Veteran All-Star Tim Hudson. Joe Panik, a rookie last year. And, of course, we’ve got Hunter Pence. (Applause.) I told Hunter I was going to talk about him a little bit. He was not only named to the All-Star team -- he inspired a craze of signs from opposing fans like “Hunter Pence eats pizza with a fork,” “Hunter Pence likes Godfather 3.” (Laughter.) Not everybody would have laughed at those signs, but not everybody is Hunter Pence. (Laughter.)
So it was another great season for the Giants. But what’s best about this organization is the example they set off the field. Their Junior Giants program works to get our young people active, teaches them skills like self-esteem and teamwork and leadership. They’ve given out nearly $500,000 in scholarships to students.
Today, I’m proud to announce that the Giants Community Fund is teaming up with San Francisco State University and Major League Baseball to build a multimillion-dollar Junior Giants Urban Youth Academy, complete with training facilities, classrooms, batting cages, two baseball fields.
The Academy will target boys and girls from underserved areas of San Francisco and will include mentoring and tutoring, and college prep programming. It’s the kind of initiative that fits right in with the goals of our My Brother’s Keeper initiative to keep all of our young people out of trouble and give them the opportunity to stretch as far as their dreams will take them. And it builds on the work that Major League Baseball is already doing to lift up young people in communities like Compton and New Orleans, and right here in Washington, D.C.
So it’s a tremendous commitment from a tremendous team. Congratulations, everybody. (Applause.) Good luck this year. We’re proud of you. Everybody give a big round of applause. The San Francisco Giants.