Go Cubs Go — and they did go — all the way to the White House!
The World Champion Chicago Cubs visited the White House on Monday, accepting the invitation that President Obama issued, via Twitter, just after their historic World Series win back in November.
The team brought their World Series trophy, as well as the Cubs’s signature “W” flag along with them.
The Cubs made their entrance to the East Room trailed by cheers of “Let’s Go Cubbies!” before President Obama took the stage.
“They said this day would never come,” Obama started. “Here is something my predecessors never got to say: Welcome to the White House, World Series champions, Chicago Cubs!”
Of course, he had to make a dig about that record-setting 108-year drought.
“I will say to the Cubs, it took you long enough!” he said.
And he acknowledged that, though he made a lot of promises during his 2008 campaign, this was not one of them.
“Even I was not crazy enough to suggest that during these eight years we would see the Cubs win the World Series,” he said.
Obama spoke of the former players who left their mark on the Cubs legacy: Ryan Sandberg, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks, as well as the famed Cubs announcer Harry Caray. He also talked about the special bond that Cubs fans have with the team, including Michelle Obama’s.
“FLOTUS is a lifelong Cubs fan,” he said, to cheers from the audience. 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. Earlier in the day, the first lady shook hands with the players and told them of her own history with the team as a child growing up in Chicago.
Obama noted that he has quite a few staffers, too, who are Cubs fans. His longest-serving aide, Anita, told him that the day after the World Series win was the “best of her life” — more so than her wedding day, or the day Obama himself won the presidency.
In fact, Obama may be looking to the Cubs for a little support going forward.
“I’ve talked to him about being DNC chair,” Obama said of Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who ended droughts for the Cubs as well as the Boston Red Sox.
A recap of that epic game seven was also in order, from Dexter Fowler’s lead-off home run in the first inning to Kris Bryant’s game-clinching final toss Anthony Rizzo, before Obama handed off the mic to Epstein for a few words.
Epstein offered Obama a “pardon” for his years of White Sox fandom, with a few gifts to sweeten the deal, including personalized jersey, the “44” from the Cubs’s historic scoreboard, a “W” flag signed by the team and a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field. (The “best swag I’ve gotten as president,” Obama said.)
It was a bit of a success: Obama admitted that, “among Sox fans, I’m the number one Cubs fan.”
Before Obama’s speech, members of the team had a chance to shake hands with the president and get a tour of the White House. Players including newlywed Kris Bryant, recent retiree David Ross, shortstop Addison Russell and first baseman Anthony Rizzo posted some souvenir snapshots on Instagram.
Today was President Obama’s final time welcoming a World Series-winning baseball team to the White House and this visit was an especially sentimental one.
The Chicago Cubs made history last November when they won the franchise’s first World Series title since 1908. And Obama is a Chicago fan — though his first allegiance is to the South Side’s home team, the White Sox.
But lifelong Chicagoan First Lady Michelle Obama grew up a Cubs fan: She regularly watched the games with her father after arriving home from school, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“There’s sort of a sentimental connection that I have with the Cubs because of my dad,” she said back in 2012. “So I’m kind of always a Cubs fan.”
Even though the Obamas are typically a house divided when it comes to Chicago baseball, they were united in their joy over the Cubs’s postseason success (perhaps in part because the White Sox were already out of the running.)
And it didn’t take long — less than an hour, in fact — for the president to extend an invitation to the Cubs to come and visit the White House before he left office.
Obama ended the historic visit — and his final official event at the White House during his presidency — on a more serious note, talking about the power sports have to unite people, even in times of division.
“[Baseball] is a game, it is celebration, but there is a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here,” he said. “Throughout our history, sports have had the power to bring people together even when our country is divided. Sports has a way sometimes of changing hearts in a way that politics or business doesn’t.”
And as the president left the stage, a chorus of the team’s anthem, “Go Cubs Go” erupted in the White House.