When George Bush came to Washington he left behind more than 250 signed baseballs he'd collected since he was a kid. But he did pack his love of the game. And last Wednesday, the new president hosted a small group of some of America's great players, managers and their wives. Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken and Braves pitcher Tom Glavine dined on veal chop and salad in the old family dining room along with Yankees manager Joe Torre, Cubs skipper Don Baylor and Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's. It's the kind of group that can be put together when you're leader of the free world.
The dinner was arranged by columnist George Will, himself a congenital baseball fan, who thought the President might like a relaxing night talking about his favorite sport. After a dessert of ice cream and cookies shaped like French fries and hot dogs, Bush gave the group a tour of his new home including the Oval Office and the Cabinet room. "He was so gracious," said Glavine. "He said: 'If you don't mind, I'd like to show you around.' We were looking at each other like: 'Are you kidding me?'" Though the conversation touched occasionally on issues of the day such as the gunman captured that morning outside the White House gates there was a lot of chatter about the group's mutual love, including whether Bush could do anything to bring a club to Washington (which lost its team, the Senators, in 1971). The topic was one of the first things D.C. mayor Anthony Williams had brought up with Bush during a lunch several weeks ago, but Bush said he didn't see that there was much he could do to make it happen.
Before the group left there were pictures and Bush was given a few pieces of team memorabilia. Some of the players even brought baseballs, which they asked the new president to sign.