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Bush to White Sox: ``It's a big deal to have you here''

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(Photo special to the Sun-Times by Randi Belisomo)
  PHOTO GALLERY: White Sox at the White House »

Marched in with a military honor guard, members of the 2005 White Sox world series team and the organizations's management were toasted by President Bush on Monday.

Said Bush, `` my question to most of these folks was, like, were you White Sox fans at the beginning of the season? ''

In the audience: White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Harold Baines, Mayor Daley, Eddie Einhorn, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.).
Bush on Daley:
``I know one person -- elected official who was a White Sox fan at the beginning of the season. As a matter of fact, he was a White Sox fan at the beginning of his life. He's been forever a White Sox fan. He is a great Mayor of a great city, and that's the Mayor, His Honor Dick Daley.''
Here's everything the president said:

Date: 2/13/06 3:50:15 PM Eastern Standard Time


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release February 13, 2006



The East Room

2:35 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome. Thank you. Be seated. They may be playing
basketball, but it's always baseball season here. (Laughter.)

The last time the Chicago White Sox won the World Series was 1917.
President Woodrow Wilson was living here. Reinsdorf, I don't know if
you came here then or not. (Laughter.) There were only eight teams in
the American League, and the league leader hit a total of nine home
runs. After 88 years of waiting, the White Sox have earned the right to
be called world champs, and we're glad you're here. (Applause.)

First of all, I want to welcome Jerry Reinsdorf. Some of my most joyous
times in my life have been during -- as a baseball owner. Harold Baines
may not have thought they were so joyous, since we never won much.
(Laughter.) And one of the reasons that I ended up in baseball with my
partner is because of Jerry Reisndorf's help, and I want to thank you
for that now that we've got the team here. I know how much you love the
game, and I know how much you love the Chicago White Sox. And so it had
to be a thrilling moment for you and Eddie and the owners that were --
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.

I appreciate Ken Williams, a man who obviously knows what he's doing who
is -- was able to put a team together. It's easy to put stars on the
field. The hard thing about baseball is to put people who can play
together, and I congratulate you for being a great general manager.

I welcome Ed Farmer and the broadcasting team. Eddie, good to see you
again. (Applause.) Thanks. I can see they'll remember you -- at least
one person does. (Laughter and applause.)

It's good to be here with Bob DuPuy of baseball. I thought you're here
to sign the lease, you know, but it's -- (laughter) -- another subject.

I do want to thank the members of my Cabinet who are here. It's great
to see you all. I thought you all told me you were Red Sox fans.

I want to thank Senator Durbin and Senator Obama from the great state of
Illinois, and Don Manzullo and Roy LaHood -- Ray LaHood. Thank you all
for coming.

I -- my question to most of these folks was, like, were you White Sox
fans at the beginning of the season? (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, he puts us on the spot.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he did. No, I'm not putting you on the spot. But
I know one person -- elected official who was a White Sox fan at the
beginning of the season. As a matter of fact, he was a White Sox fan at
the beginning of his life. He's been forever a White Sox fan. He is a
great Mayor of a great city, and that's the Mayor, His Honor Dick Daley.
(Applause.) Thanks for coming.

Roland Hemond, good to see you, Roland. Thank you. Just showing off my
baseball knowledge. Anybody that knows -- (laughter) -- knows Roland
Hemond knows something about baseball. And it's good to see Harold
Baines and the other coaches.

I understand Ozzie is on vacation, which I fully understand. 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. (Laughter.) But I want
to congratulate Ozzie Guillen, as well as the team and staff, the
coaching staff, and the managers and all those who worked hard to make
these guys ready to play. And 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

I don't want to bring up the Sosa trade, so I won't -- (laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Please don't.

THE PRESIDENT: I won't. (Laughter). But it's great to see you.
Harold Baines is one class act. I mean, that guy can not only hit, but
he brought a lot of class into the clubhouse, and I'm really proud to
see you here, Harold. Congratulations to you and the buddies you're
working with.

And to the players, congratulations. We're really proud to have you
here at the White House. It means a lot for baseball fans, White Sox
fans, all across the country that you would take time to come and be
honored here at the White House, and it's my great honor to honor you.
It's a big deal to have you here.

The amazing thing about this team is you went wire to wire, which is
really hard to do. You win one-nothing 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.

I got a first-hand report from the World Series from two people I love
dearly who had actually front-row seats, and that would be my mother and
father. (Laughter.) I'm not going to tell you who they were rooting
for, but it didn't have much effect on the outcome of the series, I'll
put it to you that way. (Laughter.)

I was impressed as a baseball guy -- at least somebody who follows it
still, closely -- that you had four complete games in a row in the
playoffs. That's a good strategy, Jerry, to keep the bullpen --
(laughter) -- keep the bullpen fresh. (Laughter.)

You know, there was great players, but nobody off the chart, if you know
what I mean, which means you competed as a team. Jermaine Dye had an
interesting quote, that I think is worth sharing with people who are
paying attention at this moment. He said, "From the start of spring
training, everybody was hungry." He didn't say one player was hungry or
a guy going into arbitration was hungry, or a free agent for next year
was hungry. He said everybody was hungry. They're -- everybody wanted
to go out there and win together. Everybody was pulling on the same
rope. That's why you're the world champs. Everybody was pulling on the
same rope. And that's what we're here to honor, a great championship

I congratulate Jermaine for being the MVP of the World Series. I
congratulate Paul for being the MVP of the American League Championship
Series. It must be a pretty cool feeling to hit a grand slam in the
World Series. I didn't get one in Little League, much less the World
Series. (Laughter.) And you had a grand slam, you caught the last out
of the season, and you witnessed the birth of your child all in the same
month. Man, what a special month. The Lord has blessed you. That's
why you're called Mr. Soxtober. (Laughter.)

I know the effect you had on White Sox fans, and it must have been
electrifying. One women in her 90s said, "I've been a Sox fan all my
life, I never thought I'd live to see the day." Think about that --
think about the joy that you all put in the hearts of this 90-year-old
person, and probably some young ones, too, that were pulling for the
White Sox.

The people of Chicago turned out en masse not only because you were
baseball champs, but because you have brought some character to the
city. I want to applaud the organization for supporting inner-city
Little League. I think it's really important for this great state of
baseball to reach out to people of all walks of life to make sure that
the sport is inclusive. The best way to do it is to convince little
kids how to -- the beauty of playing baseball.

I appreciate the baseball fields you're building in Chicago, kind of
little centers of hope, little diamonds of joy for people to come and be
able to play the greatest game ever invented. I appreciate the Chicago
White Sox Charities, your support of cancer research and cancer
treatment in the metropolitan area. Most of all, I appreciate the fact
that these players understand they're setting examples for young boys
and girls all across Chicago, as well as the country. You're setting
the example that serving something greater than yourself is important in
life; coming together as a team is a heck of a lot more important and
satisfying than worrying about your own batting average or your own ERA.

And so here we are in the White House, Jerry, honoring the great Chicago
White Sox. I'm proud to be with you. God bless your championship and
God continue to bless the country. (Applause.)

MR. KONERKO: Mr. President, on behalf of our organization, and all the
fans on the South Side and all over the world, we want to present you
with this jersey and jacket.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought you were going to give me a loan. (Laughter.)

MR. DYE: And also, we know deep down you probably wish this was a
Houston Astros jacket. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Now wait a minute --

MR. DYE: Hopefully this will do.

MR. KONERKO: Thanks for having us here today.

THE PRESIDENT: Actually it was a Texas Rangers jacket. (Laughter and

END 2:46 P.M. EST

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 13, 2006 2:48 PM.

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