11/05/08 6:31 PM EST
White Sox have friend in First Fan
Obama carries rooting interest into Oval Office
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
How about a special payroll dispensation put into law by Obama, allowing the White Sox to sign anyone and everyone they desire? Maybe there will be an official scheduling change enacted by Obama, giving the White Sox a chance to play 130 of their 162 regular-season games at U.S. Cellular Field.
"That would be nice, wouldn't it?" said Del Matthews, an assistant in baseball operations for the White Sox, with a laugh.
Neither of the above ideas has a remote chance of taking place, a point acknowledged by White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who still was amused by the concept. But having a Chicago supporter in the Oval Office certainly won't hurt the White Sox cause.
"It definitely will be nice to have someone in the White House who is both a White Sox and Bulls fan," Reinsdorf said. "How can you not like that?"
Reinsdorf first met Obama in 2004, when the young politician stopped by his office during his campaign to unseat Peter Fitzgerald in the U.S. Senate. Reinsdorf also saw Obama at a small dinner party shortly thereafter, and the two have been friendly since.
Obama supplants Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley as the most prominent elected official in the White Sox corner. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who grew up near U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side of Chicago, and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell also stand out as major White Sox fans.
As President of the United States, Obama already holds carte blanche to attend pretty much any event he wants. But the White Sox will reach out to their friend in the White House to throw out the first pitch at a game as he did in 2005.
A connection also exists between Reinsdorf and outgoing President George W. Bush, a man Reinsdorf helped bring into baseball as owner of the Rangers. Reinsdorf mentioned that you don't pick friends through their politics, but rather based on how they are as a person.
"Regardless of what people think of him as President, he's a terrific person," said Reinsdorf of Bush. "Obama is, too."
Nothing would please Reinsdorf more than having a meeting between his baseball team and Obama in Washington, D.C., some time after the White Sox win another championship next October. It certainly would hold more of a personal meaning than just another winning team visit for Obama, who was present when the White Sox traveled to the White House after the 2005 championship.
Unfortunately, the White Sox will have to get the job done without that special help from Obama.
"Somehow I think he's going to have more important things to do than to focus on baseball," said Reinsdorf with a laugh. "But he makes no bones about being a White Sox and Bulls fan, and I love it."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.