Barack Obama

Washington, Jan 17 (IANS) US President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed the Chicago Cubs to the White House to pay tribute to them for the World Series they won last November after a 108-year championship drought, and spoke about the power sports has to unite a divided country.

The Cubs won their first Fall Classic since 1908 after besting the Cleveland Indians in seven games in one of the most competitive World Series ever, a contest featuring greater suspense than ever experienced before in the history of the Major Leagues, Efe news reported.

With the Series tied at three games each, after the Cubs had fought their way back from from being down by two games, the Chicago team won the seventh and final game 8-7.

Obama on Monday emphasised the fact that during US history sports has served to unite Americans when the country has been divided.

The president, who has his permanent residence in Chicago, is a fan of the White Sox, the city’s American League baseball team. The Cubs are within the National League.

The Cubs, represented by team official Theo Epstein, presented Obama with several jerseys, a lifetime game pass and – in particular – a jersey with the number 44, representing Obama’s status as the 44th president.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo presented the jerseys to the president, and Latino ballplayers Aroldis Chapman and Miguel Montero were among those on hand among the team delegation.

Also present was former Latino ballplayer Jose Cardenal, of Cuba, who played for the Cubs from 1972-1977.

First lady Michelle Obama was also at the ceremony, the first time in the Obamas’ eight years in the White House that she has attended a tribute event for a sports team, and the president said that his wife’s family, especially her father, were big Cubs fans and really enjoyed watching Cardenal play.

Obama in 2009 also had the opportunity to welcome the White Sox to the White House after they won the World Series that year.

The upbeat ceremony was Obama’s last public White House event – except for a final news conference on Wednesday – before he leaves office on January 20.

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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