WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University baseball team had a front row seat to history on Monday afternoon as the Bison were special guest of U.S. President Barack Obama to attend a ceremony to recognize the New York Yankees for winning the 2009 World Series, its 27th title overall. The ceremony took place in the East Room of the White House as rain forced the ceremony indoors.
The 2010 Gallaudet baseball team filled the first three reserved rows in front of the President's podium and were in prime position when the President, Vice President Joe Biden and members of the New York Yankees entered the East Room.
"To be present in the East Room with the President of the United States of America, the Vice President and the New York Yankees was a great thrill," said Gallaudet University Director of Athletics Michael Weinstock. "Over the years different championship teams have been recognized by the President and to be there in person is a once in a lifetime experience."
The ceremony was extra special for Gallaudet baseball coach Curtis Pride who played for the New York Yankees in 2003. As members of the Yankees entered and exited the East Room a lot came over to Pride to exchange hugs, handshakes and kind words.
"This is a very exciting day for the Gallaudet University baseball program. It was an honor for us to be invited and be a part of this ceremony. For our players to be able to shake hands with the President and the New York Yankees is an incredible experience," said Pride. "It was especially great to see old friends from the Yankees organization."
The Gallaudet contingent included Dean of Student Affairs A. Dwight Benedict, Weinstock, Sports Information Director Sam Atkinson along with Pride and coaches Greg Fleet, Kris Gould, Ryan Lentz and Andre Rabouin. The baseball student-athletes in attendance included freshman Tommy Barksdale (Brookeville, Md.), freshman Billy Bissell (Brewer, Mass.), sophomore Brook Fox (Ballwin, Mo.), sophomore Danny Gabel (Staten Island, N.Y.), sophomore Ryan Hastings (Cherry Valley, Mass.), junior Arthur Hess (North Bellmore, N.Y.), senior Chester Kuschmider (Olathe, Kan.), freshman Angelo Leccese (North Bellmore, N.Y.), freshman Peter Leccese (North Bellmore, N.Y.), junior Zane Noschese (Pittsburgh, Pa.), sophomore Jeremy Shepps (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) and junior A.J. Williams (Albuquerque, N.M.).
The Yankees won the 2009 World Series in six games over the Philadelphia Phillies. This was the fifth White House visit for the Yankee core of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. The last visit by the Yankees happened in 2001. New York manager Joe Girardi presented President Obama with a signed Yankees' home white jersey with the No. 27.
"It's been nine years since your last title, which must have felt like an eternity for Yankees fans," said Obama during the ceremony in front of joyous Yankee crowd. "I think other teams would be just fine with a spell like that, the [Chicago] Cubs, for example. This is a team that goes down to spring training every year expecting to win it all, and more often than not, you guys get pretty close."
For the Bison players this is a memory that won't be forgotten.
"This is a once in a lifetime experience that I will savor forever," said Shepps, the two-time team captain for the Bison. "I am just speechless and very excited. This is one of the richest experiences of my life."
Pictures from the White House ceremony with the New York Yankees (April 26)
Photos by Sam Atkinson,
Gallaudet Sports Information
The Gallaudet University baseball team outside the East Room in the White House.
Bison baseball players sitting in the East Room of the White House.
Coach Pride and the Bison coaching staff in the front row and under the bright lights.
The second row of Bison baseball players in the East Room get ready for the ceremony.
The third row of Bison baseball players in the East Room get ready for the ceremony.
New York Yankee All-Star catcher Jorge Posada greets Coach Curtis Pride, the two were teammates in 2003.
President Obama welcomes the New York Yankees to the White House.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi is off to the left with a signed jersey for Obama.
Vice President Joe Biden sits in the front row with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner.
The 2009 World Series trophy is in the background on a table.
Preisdent Obama shakes hands with Gallaudet baseball coach Curtis Pride.
Vice President Joe Biden greets the Bison players and coaching staff.