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World Champs Going to The White House

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  • World Champs Going to The White House

    White Sox honored in DC on Monday
    Team to tour the White House, meet with President Bush
    By Scott Merkin /

    Joe Crede, Aaron Rowand and A.J. Pierzynski will be reunited on Monday. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

    CHICAGO -- Getting the chance to privately tour the White House in the nation's capitol and meet with President Bush would be a fairly interesting and exciting experience, in and of itself, for any average American citizen.

    Being recognized for their 2005 World Series title by President Bush after their tour, as announced Thursday by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, simply adds to that particular brand of excitement. But for Aaron Rowand, the Gold Glove caliber center fielder who was traded to Philadelphia just a month after the celebration ended, Monday's trip holds an even higher level of personal significance.

    "It's even more exciting now then it would be if I was still on the team," said Rowand, speaking from his car Thursday afternoon while on his way to Philadelphia's Spring Training site in Clearwater, Fla. "It's going to be the last time I get to see the guys for a while.

    "This will be a good reunion, and a lot of the guys have called to see if I'm going. It's going to be a great time."

    Rowand won't be the only White Sox World Series contributor with a new address in Washington, D.C. Players such as Damaso Marte, Luis Vizcaino, Willie Harris and Geoff Blum, to name a few, were all invited and are scheduled to be part of the ceremony. Part-time contributors such as Brandon McCarthy, Brian Anderson and Joe Borchard were also extended an invitation and will be taking advantage of the chance to meet the President.

    The traveling party will include coaches, trainers and strength and conditioning coordinators, and selected front office personnel will be part of the White Sox traveling party. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ken Williams will make the trip, but manager Ozzie Guillen will not be in attendance.

    Guillen, who had a family vacation previously planned for Feb. 13, is one of six players or coaches with ties to the organization who won't be going to the White House. Tadahito Iguchi is being recognized in his homeland of Japan with a ceremony that could not be changed, while Scott Podsednik currently is on his honeymoon. Freddy Garcia (preparing for the World Baseball Classic), Frank Thomas and Bobby Jenks also will not be in attendance.

    Most of the White Sox contingency is scheduled to arrive in Washington D.C. on Sunday, with the festivities starting with the private tour Monday afternoon. There will be a meet and greet with President Bush and a private time for the team to speak with him, outside of the photo opportunity and public statements.

    For a history buff such as Rowand is, checking out the different White House bedrooms and the Oval Office figures to be a very memorable afternoon. Rowand laughed and agreed that it could have been even more entertaining if Guillen, the proud new American citizen and colorful manager, would have come along.

    With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tucson on Feb. 17, the trip to the White House almost serves as a changing of the guard for the White Sox. Guillen has previously mentioned that once Feb. 18 arrives and workouts begin, he no longer considers the White Sox the champions. All eyes will be honed in on the 2006 season.

    That change for Rowand will be a little more permanent following Monday's trip out East.

    "I'm looking forward to catching up with all those guys," said Rowand, who is driving to Orlando to visit with A.J. Pierzynski before the two fly out on Sunday. "This is a neat experience not a whole lot of people get to have.

    "Basically, I'm non-partisan. I always vote for who the better guy is. But I like President Bush. I was always a fan of his. I'm a little biased maybe because he's a baseball fan."

    Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

  • #2
    President receives Sox at White House
    World Series champions praised for character, perseverance
    By Jeff Seidel /

    Jermaine Dye (left) and Paul Konerko present President Bush with a White Sox jersey. (Ron Edmonds/AP)

    WASHINGTON -- The Chicago White Sox have received numerous honors and compliments since winning the team's first World Series championship in 88 years last fall. But as they prepare to head to Spring Training later this week, the White Sox might have had their most enjoyable moment of a very special offseason on Monday afternoon.

    President George W. Bush greeted the White Sox in the East Room of the White House, lavishly praising the team for its solid play throughout 2005 and spectacular work during the playoffs and World Series.

    "The amazing thing about this team is you went wire to wire, which is really hard to do," Bush said. "You win, 1-0, on Opening Day, and like, they're in your rear-view mirror for the rest of the season. It takes a lot to win 99 games and to remain the lead and not falter. And it says something about the character of the team that you put together and the character of the players."

    The ceremony had a few personal moments, as the President has been friends with team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf for several years. It was Reinsdorf, in fact, who helped Bush get together with partners that led to their eventual purchase of the Texas Rangers. Bush clearly enjoyed congratulating his friend.

    "I know how much you love the game, and I know how much you love the Chicago White Sox," Bush said. "And so it had to be a thrilling moment for you and [vice chairman] Eddie [Einhorn] and the owners that were patient for all those years you didn't win. And so I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart, and thank you for your friendship. It's great to see you."

    Bush also jokingly played down of the controversy surrounding manager Ozzie Guillen's skipping of the ceremony to remain on vacation with his family.

    "If he's a Caribbean guy, taking a look at the weather forecast up here yesterday would have made me not want to come, as well," said Bush with a laugh. "I want to congratulate Ozzie on being a great manager, Manager of the Year, as well as becoming a United States citizen earlier this year. We're proud to have him as an American citizen."

    Traveling was a problem this weekend anyway because of the large winter storm that hit the Northeast. The Washington Post reported that approximately eight to 14 inches of snow blanketed the city, which messed up the travel plans of a few of the members of the White Sox party.

    The White Sox had 45 people come to the White House, with the weather problems preventing 10 of them from getting to the District. Fortunately, the roads were fine in the District on Monday, though traffic moved at a much slower pace.

    Those who made it to the White House clearly enjoyed and were touched by the honor of having the President receive them. The White Sox were known last year as a low-key, workmanlike group, something that came through on this visit.

    "This certainly was quite a thrill," Reinsdorf said. "It's always just a wonderful feeling to [be here]. Today was sort of special."

    General manager Kenny Williams closely echoed Reinsdorf's sentiments, saying how honored he was to be at the White House -- something that could be seen in his face when he spoke and also heard in his voice.

    "It's the national epicenter [and this] is a sincere honor," Williams said. "I don't think it should be taken lightly. For me, it's the thrill of a lifetime to be on this stage with the President [and the White Sox]."

    Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye presented the President with a White Sox home jersey plus a team jacket at the end of the ceremony. Bush had joked earlier that he had received first-hand reports from his parents during the World Series sweep of Houston.

    "I'm not going to tell you who they were rooting for," said Bush with a smile. "But it didn't have much effect on the outcome of the [Series]."

    Dye gave the President a little bit of good-natured tweaking on that subject when giving him the jacket.

    "And also, we know deep down you probably wish this was a Houston Astros jacket," Dye said with a laugh.

    But in talking to Dye after the ceremony, there was no question that the visit meant something to him.

    "It was very special," Dye said. "I didn't really know what to expect -- meeting the President was a great honor."

    Konerko noted that Bush relaxed everybody by talking and joking with them. And now Chicago can head off to Spring Training later this week completely ready to defend its crown.

    "I look at it as the last thing about that team," Konerko said. "[It's] the last piece to the puzzle."

    Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


    • #3
      "White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has decided not to attend his team's trip to the White House on Monday. Still, administration officials insist that they're not upset at the snub. In fact, the White House has graciously arranged for Guillen to go hunting with Dick Cheney." The 10 spot:2/13/06


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