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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-05-16

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-05-16

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-05-16
Faced with the opportunity to finally meet President Barack Obama on Friday, Jimmy Rollins wasn't sure what he'd say to the man for whom he helped campaign in early November. He has never been shy, and over the years, he has met plenty of celebrities.

"But not one this important," Rollins said.

And when the moment arrived and Rollins was face-to-face with Obama, the conversation took an unexpected turn.

"I asked him where the basketball court is, and he said, 'I've got a foot on you,'" said Rollins, the Phillies' 5-foot-9 shortstop. "He tried to post me up. I told him I'm too quick. So, hopefully, I'll get that invite. When the hardwood's done, I'll throw a couple layups on him."

And that was how it went Friday at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Phillies, reveling in the latest of their World Series championship spoils, rubbed elbows with Obama, who reserved the noon hour in his schedule, sandwiching the Phillies around his daily economic briefing and a sitdown with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

After getting a White House tour that ended with a meeting with Obama in the Oval Office, Obama delivered a seven-minute speech on the South Lawn. The ceremony concluded with Rollins presenting the 44th president with a No. 44 Phillies jersey and Obama joking, "Can I have your ring, too?"

"It's something I'll always remember," said center fielder Shane Victorino, who received a mention from Obama because of his Hawaiian roots (Obama, like Victorino, is Hawaii-born). "To be able to stand there behind the President of the United States and hear him give a speech about your team, it's one of the brighter moments in my life."

Initially, the Phillies were scheduled to visit the White House on April 14. But the death of Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas one day earlier caused a postponement, and Obama noted, "Harry is here with us in spirit."

"He waited 28 years to call another World Series championship run," Obama continued, "and what an unbelievable run it was, full of come-from-behind wins by an underdog team that loved to prove the prognosticators wrong. So, we share something in common there, because nobody thought I was going to win, either."

Each current Phillies player and coach who was on the World Series roster, regardless of their political persuasion, attended the ceremony (newcomers Raul Ibanez, Chan Ho Park, Miguel Cairo and Jack Taschner weren't invited), and Obama cited many for their charitable work.

"Chase (Utley) works on behalf of pediatric hospitals," Obama said. "Brad (Lidge) supports our wounded warriors. Cole (Hamels) helps those suffering with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Ryan Howard is a national face for Boys & Girls Clubs, participates in the Make-A-Wish Foundation and takes an active role in mentoring inner-city students."

Obama also praised Howard and Rollins for being "role models" at a time when Major League Baseball has seen a steep decline in African-American players. He also acknowledged manager Charlie Manuel for guiding the Phillies despite the death of his mother during the National League Championship Series.

"I appreciated that," Manuel said. "That was very important to me."

PHILLIES 10, NATIONALS 6 (12 innings): Raul Ibanez laced a two-run single in the 12th inning to break a tie and send the Phillies to a victory in the opener of a four-game series at Nationals Park. The Phillies rallied from a 4-0 first-inning deficit against starter Joe Blanton thanks, in part, to Ryan Howard's three-run homer in the seventh. They led 6-4 in the ninth inning when struggling closer Brad Lidge blew another save. Ibanez and Pedro Feliz each had four hits, while red-hot catcher Carlos Ruiz had three hits. The Phillies improved to 9-4 on the road (they're only 8-12 at home) and won for only the third time in their last eight games.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 16, 2009

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