It’s a special first for Salvador Perez…
The 26-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and his Kansas City Royals teammates were honored by President Barack Obama as the 2015 World Series champions at the White House on Thursday.
Obama described the Royals as one of the “grittiest, most complete teams we’ve seen in a long time.”
The Royals last visited the White House in 1985, when President Ronald Reagan saluted their “never-say-die spirit” in the Rose Garden.
The 2015 team showed the same grit and determination. Six outs away from playoff elimination, the Royals scored seven runs to defeat the Houston Astros. They went on to win that series and to beat the Toronto Blue Jays and later the New York Mets. Obama noted that the Royals held the record for comeback wins in the playoffs.
Obama also acknowledged that it had been a long time between visits to the White House for Kansas City. “Let’s face it, it’s been a long road for Royals fans,” Obama said. “There were some dark years, some tough decades.”
But Obama said that began to change when general manager Dayton Moore was hired and the Royals started to develop talented players through their minor league system. Among them: outfielder Alex Gordon, infielders Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, and Perez at catcher.
Obama called each of the players by his nickname: “Gordo,” “Moose,” “Hos” and “Salvy.” But the president didn’t seem to find those too creative.
“We’re going to have to work on these,” Obama said.
“When the president calls you out, you definitely got to start thinking about something,” Hosmer said after the ceremony. “We’ve got some guys in the locker room, I’m sure they’re starting to bear down on that.”
Obama noted that his press secretary, Josh Earnest, is a big Royals fan, and that the Royals visit Thursday was right up there as far as his best days ever.
Manager Ned Yost, Hosmer and Perez interrupted the day’s press briefing to present the Kansas City, Missouri, native with a team jersey, an upgraded mug and an autographed World Series baseball. Yost said the team didn’t want Earnest to get into trouble “by him trying to hijack” the president’s jersey.
The team gave Obama a Royals jersey with the No. 44 in gold lettering, which nicely matched the ornate drapes in the White House East Room.