President Obama receives Cubs jersey

But as Cubs president Theo Epstein pointed out, it wasn't the first time the team has visited.

"They said this day would never come", Obama said as he started his remarks, adding: "Something none of my predecessors ever had a chance to say, 'Welcome to the White House, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.' ..."

The role of Democratic National Committee chairman is now up for election (to be held in February). "The last time the Cubs won a World Series, Teddy Roosevelt was president", Obama noted.

Congratulating Epstein, Obama noted his success as a turnaround artist - the 43-year-old led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series wins, in 2004 and 2007, after 86 dry years - and joked that he was trying to convince the young executive to take on another "organization that is wandering in the wilderness".

Obama - a longtime fan of the Cubs' crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox - extended the invite on Twitter immediately after the Cubs secured their dramatic Game 7 victory.After the convention, the Cubs will head to Washington for their visit to the White House on Monday.

The team presented Mr. Obama with a special "44" jersey honoring the president. So I can't claim that I had the same visceral joy of some in this White House.

"It took you long enough", Obama said to laughter.

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The team - along with a strong showing of top presidential aides and allies - celebrated their first World Series title in more than a century. This is, and the president also noted in his remarks, a way of connecting generations, something I'm sure nearly all of us here feel.

He also ribbed first baseman Anthony Rizzo for immediately pocketing the ball from the final out of the World Series-clinching game, and joked that he and retired catcher David Ross have both been on a "yearlong retirement party".

"Do note that among Sox fans, I am the Cubs" number-one fan'.

"When you see this group of folks, different shades and different backgrounds, and coming from all kinds of different communities and neighborhoods across the country but then playing as one team", Obama said, "that tells us a little bit something about what America is and what America can be".

The team also gave him a "W" flag identical to the one the team flies after a win. "Sports has a way sometimes of changing hearts in a way that politics or business hasn't".

"Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle, but ultimately made us think differently about ourselves and who we were", Obama said.

  • Michelle Webb