Royals' White House visit special to Earnest

Press secretary is a Kansas City native, lifelong fan

Royals' White House visit special to Earnest

WASHINGTON -- About five minutes into White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's daily media briefing on Thursday, he was interrupted by the presence of Royals manager Ned Yost, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez.

Yost presented Earnest with a No. 15 Royals jersey (the year of the team's World Series championship) with his name on the back.

"We just had a real fear you might hijack the president's jersey," Yost said, "so we decided to get you your own."

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Earnest smiled with appreciation and said later he suspected something might be up because numerous photographers were front and center at his podium when he began addressing reporters.

"That's not normally the case," Earnest said.

Royals visit the White House

The jersey was just one of several special moments on the day for Earnest, a Kansas City native and an unabashed huge Royals fan. Earnest also got to enjoy the ceremony in the East Room when President Barack Obama honored the Royals for their 2015 championship season.

"This came along at the right time for everyone," Earnest said in reference to some of the troubling issues domestically and abroad. "It's a nice break for everyone."

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Actually, Earnest, who attended high school at The Bartow School in Kansas City, has found solace in following the Royals for years. He follows the team on the MLB At Bat app.

"I don't get to watch every game," Earnest said. "But I catch two or three innings every other day."

But Earnest knows the club up and down the roster. He was especially curious as to when center fielder Lorenzo Cain (left hamstring) would be back, and if general manager Dayton Moore would be a buyer or a seller at the upcoming Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Latest on Cain's injury status

"This is why a guy like Dayton Moore has such a tough job," Earnest said. "How do you decide?"

Earnest, 41, recalls being a fan since he was little. He said he had no favorite player.

"George Brett, Hal McRae, Willie Wilson," Earnest said. "I remember Bret Saberhagen as a rookie in 1985. I loved baseball.

"I played baseball every summer through high school. But I can tell you, every summer, there was a fight over who got to wear No. 5."

The 1985 World Series champion Royals hold special meaning for Earnest.

"My endearing memory of that season is that my grandmother worked in downtown Kansas City," Earnest said, "and my parents took me out of school so we could watch the ticker-tape parade from her office." 

Last year's World Series championship is equally unforgettable for Earnest. He even got to attend Game 1 of the Series in Kansas City.

"Gordo hit the game-tying homer in the ninth inning," Earnest said, smiling. "That was the best sporting event I've ever attended."

Gordon's game-tying homer in 9th

Almost everyone on staff at the White House knows of Earnest's love for the Royals. His office is decorated with Royals memorabilia, from a Yost bobblehead on a shelf to a base that was signed by the Royals that he has hanging on a wall, to a Royals mug delivered personally by Hosmer.

One staff member even joked to the media that Thursday seemed like Earnest's "inauguration day."

"That's probably true," Earnest said, laughing.

Even President Obama acknowledged Earnest in his speech honoring the Royals.

"Now, I'm not sure if anybody is aware of this, but my press secretary happens to be a Royals fan," the president said. "If you asked Josh to choose the best day of his life, I'm pretty sure he'd say his wedding day and the birth of his son. But [today] is close. It's really close."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.