In the days after the 1985 World Series, the champion Kansas City Royals traveled to the White House and stood in the Rose Garden with President Ronald Reagan. More than three decades later, another collection of champions is headed back — and catcher Salvador Perez may be packing his Gatorade bucket.
The Royals will visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama on Thursday, July 21, the White House announced Thursday. In a longstanding tradition, the president will honor the reigning World Series champions with a 10:50 a.m. CDT ceremony in the East Room. The trip to the nation’s capital will come on a scheduled day off between home series against the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.
The long-awaited visit was revealed Thursday morning in an official White House video featuring White House press secretary Josh Earnest, a Kansas City native who attended The Barstow School.
In the video, Earnest wore a Royals cap and drank coffee from a blue Royals mug while using a hose to fill a giant orange jug.
“We’re getting ready for you, Salvy,” Earnest said, referring to Perez, the Royals’ chief cooler splasher after victories.
Earnest, a fervent Royals fan, traveled to Baltimore to watch the Royals play the Orioles in the 2014 American League Championship Series. He regularly drinks from his Royals coffee mug during White House press briefings. He visited Kauffman Stadium for a game last September.
“There aren’t a lot of Kansas City people in D.C.,” Earnest told The Star in an interview in 2014. “So the fact that I’m a Kansas City sports fan and a Royals fan, it’s a pretty distinguishing feature.”
In addition to Earnest, the Royals will also get some time with his boss, the president, an avowed Chicago sports fan who has continued the tradition of welcoming professional and college sports champions to the White House.
On many occasions, Obama has expressed his allegiance to the Chicago White Sox, the Royals’ American League Central rival, once wearing a black White Sox jacket to the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis. He will welcome Perez, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis and the rest of the 2015 World Series champions to Washington D.C.
The Royals won their franchise’s second World Series championship last November in New York, defeating the New York Mets in five games. The trip to the White House was delayed until July, in part because the tight schedules of the Major League Baseball season and the White House led to some natural conflicts.
The Royals traveled to Baltimore earlier this summer and had a day off after a three-game series. But the MLB Draft was scheduled for that Thursday night, which would have prevented Royals general manager Dayton Moore and other executives from making the trip to nearby Washington D.C.
The modern history of White House trips for sports teams stretches back nearly a century, though the practice has become more common over the last three decades. The 1924 Washington Senators are thought to have been the first World Series champion to visit the White House, making the short cross-town trip to meet President Calvin Coolidge. In January 1963, President John F. Kennedy welcomed the first NBA champion to the White House, hosting the Boston Celtics. The tradition continued, eventually including the Super Bowl champion. Reagan made it a staple during his eight-year term in office in the 1980s.
These days, NCAA basketball and College Football Playoff champions receive invitations to the White House. And Obama has continued a more recent tradition of inviting all NCAA Division I champions for a combined ceremony.
The last Kansas City team to visit the White House was Sporting Kansas City, which met Obama on Oct. 1, 2014, after winning the MLS Cup.
This trip will mark the Royals’ first trip to the White House since the 1985. On Oct. 31, just four days after Game 7 of the World Series at Royals Stadium, Reagan welcomed a contingent of Royals that included Frank White, George Brett and Brett Saberhagen.
The Royals presented Reagan with a blue Royals warm-up jacket, a World Series baseball cap and a bat. Reagan followed the usual custom, doling out a mixture of praise and humor.
“In that Interstate 70 series, the ‘Show Me’ spirit really came through,” Reagan said during the ceremony. “Your team showed the world, and you did it royally. You’ve proved to America what a never-say-die spirit can do.”
More than 30 years later, Obama will step to a microphone in the East Room in the White House and address another World Series champion from Kansas City.