WASHINGTON, April 1 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama welcomed the 2013 World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, at the White House on Tuesday.
Members of the team and ownership were greeted be a large, jubilant crowd on the South Lawn, where a band playing a jazz guitar version of the Fenway Park classic "Sweet Caroline" and was joined by cheers of "so good! so good!"
But the celebration was perhaps more somber than most championship ceremonies at the White House, with the one-year anniversary of last year's Boston Marathon bombings coming in just weeks.
"I think for the nation as a whole there was something about this particular squad that was special and will go down in history -- not just not just because they went from worst to first, but because they symbolized the grit and the resilience of America’s -- one of America’s iconic cities during one of its most difficult moments," the president said.
The president lauded the members of the team, who spent time during the season giving back to the community, visiting victims of the bombing in the hospitals, playing baseball with kids fighting cancer, and starting a program aimed at helping wounded warriors get treatment.
"With every game they played, the Sons of Fenway never forgot what it meant to wear the Boston uniform," Obama said.
"And I think Big Papi put it better and more colorfully than any of us could," he said to laughter, referring to designated hitter David Ortiz's declaration that Boston "is our [expletive] city" at the park in the days after the bombing. "I won’t repeat his quote. But the point is, Boston and the Red Sox were one this season."
Ortiz took a selfie with the president after handing him a Red Sox jersey with "Obama 44" stitched onto the back, and Jonny Gomes said the president complimented him on his impressively loud flag blazer.
Boston's former mayor Tom Menino was there, as were Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Pat Leahy, D-N.H., numerous members of the administration, and a member of the MBTA transit police, Richard Donahue, who was shot and almost killed in the bombing's aftermath.