President Barack Obama, in his last week in office, welcomed the World Champion Chicago Cubs to the White House on Monday. Cubs players filed into the White House East Room Monday for Obama's final ceremony for a championship sports team. First baseman Anthony Rizzo gave president two "44" jerseys with Obama's name on them, including one that just said "Chicago".
And one ex-Cub even got a special invite to the White House so the First Lady could meet her all-time favorite player.
The Cubs presented President Obama with a number-44 jersey, a 44 from the historic Wrigley Field scoreboard, a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field, and the team's popular W flag that is flown after wins. Obama then shared that the Cubs' visit was the first time Mrs. Obama, in eight years, had partaken in a championship team's visit to the White House.
Obama ticked off a play-by-play of the Game 7 thriller, in which the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians, 9-7, to break their record-long title drought.
Among the attendees were Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; former Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg; Illinois Sen.
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"She came and shook hands and met with every one of these members of the Cubs' organization and told a story about what it meant for her to see them win", Obama said, "because she remembers coming home from school, and her dad would be watching a Cubs game". This is, and the president also noted in his remarks, a way of connecting generations, something I'm sure nearly all of us here feel.
It is a direct line that has awakened to the activist minds of athletes throughout Obama's time in office, and those activist minds must stay vocal about issues of social justice now, with controversial president-elect Donald Trump on the doorstep of the White House.
"There's no big conspiracy here", said team president Theo Epstein, a Hillary Clinton supporter who -attended President Obama's farewell speech in Chicago. "I've talked to him about being DNC chair, but he decided wisely to stick to baseball".
After the event, Obama joined his wife at the Jobs Have Priority Naylor Road Family Shelter in Washington, where they helped paint details onto a mural of Martin Luther King Jr. "And sports has a way of sometimes changing hearts in a way that politics and business can't".
Obama said that made him think about racial progress in a still-divided country - and that, in turn, brought to mind the kind of unity that sporting heroes can sometimes bring.
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