Diamondbacks tour the White House

Dec. 13, 2001 at 8:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- On a day when most of Washington's attention was focused on a disturbing videotape, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks found a way to provide a few lighthearted television moments.

Schilling and Johnson, who shared World Series Most Valuable Player honors, made the most of their visit to the White House Thursday, teasing both press secretary Ari Fleisher and President George W. Bush.

Enjoying one of the perks for an American championship team, Schilling, Johnson, Diamondbacks president Jerry Colangelo and a a handful of players and executives attended ceremonies in the nation's capitol.

Schilling and Johnson got things started by barging in on Fleisher's afternoon press briefing as he was addressing issues regarding the release of a videotape of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The normally stoic Fleisher, a huge New York Yankees fan, chuckled at the appearance of the All-Star pitchers and even felt the need to introduce the duo to the international media.

"These are members of the world champion Arizona Diamondbacks, I'm chagrined to report," he said.

Fleisher, who has become one of the most recognizable faces in the world since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, was given a Diamondbacks cap and T-shirt.

"I still don't know why the (Yankees') infield was in the ninth inning," he said. "Congratulations. It was a great World Series and you guys really deserved it."

Johnson poked fun at Fleisher's balding pate, suggesting it could be lucky.

"It may be just a rumor, but I heard if we rub your head, we'll be back here next year," Johnson said.

"I suspect I'll have even less hair next year, and the Yankees will be back," Fleisher said.

The players then met with the president, who once was part-owner of the Texas Rangers, and presented him with a jersey.

"The players gave us a fabulous series," Bush said. "Such joy and jubilation. I want to thank the players for going to ground zero. A true class act. The nation is thankful for that."

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