Cards praised by Obamas in White House visit

Champs present President, First Lady with bats, jerseys

By Matthew Leach / | 01/17/12 7:30 PM EST

Chicago met St. Louis in Washington on Tuesday afternoon.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greeted the World Series champion Cardinals at the White House in a renewal of one of sports' great traditions. A contingent of more than 30 entered the East Room around 2:30 p.m. CT, where they were honored by the First Family.
Michelle Obama spoke first, admitting that she is a Chicago Cubs fan, and of course the President is well known to be a die-hard White Sox fan. But they had nothing but good things to say about the champion Cardinals, hailing the team for its on- and off-field accomplishments.

The President quipped that he was "a little disappointed I had to leave my White Sox jacket in the closet for another year," but congratulated a "special team" for its comebacks in the regular season and postseason. The Cardinals trailed the Braves by 10 1/2 games in the Wild Card race in late August before rallying to make the playoffs on the final day of the season.
"This is a sport that has seen it all," President Obama said. "But every once in a while, something happens that we have never seen before, something unique. And that's why it is my pleasure to stand here with the greatest comeback team in the history of baseball."
Bill DeWitt Jr., the principal owner of the Cardinals, presented the Obamas with matching Cardinals World Series jerseys, each emblazoned with the couple's last name and No. 44. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. DeWitt also presented a bat, prompting Mr. Obama to joke, "I'm worried about giving my wife a bat."
In attendance at the ceremony were St. Louis mayor Francis Slay and members of the congressional delegation from the St. Louis area. They got to see a representative but not entirely complete contingent of Cardinals.
Most of the club's most prominent players, including Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman and David Freese, made the trip from St. Louis. Among those not attending were manager Tony La Russa, first baseman Albert Pujols, pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina. Edwin Jackson, who is expected to depart via free agency, did join the trip.
Crediting La Russa, President Obama noted that the manager had begun his career with the White Sox, to which Mrs. Obama joked, "Let it go."
Joining the players were several other members of the organization, including DeWitt, team president Bill DeWitt III, general manager John Mozeliak, hitting coach Mark McGwire and team physician George Paletta.
Prior to their visit to the White House, the Cardinals made a trip to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. They visited with wounded and recovering military members at the hospital after arriving at Reagan National Airport. The club flew to and from Washington on Tuesday.