Obama, who canceled two fund-raising events earlier in the day to deal with the debt-ceiling crisis, seemed to appreciate not only the gifts but also the brief respite from more pressing matters. "Maybe we should do something like this every day," he said after receiving his haul from the Giants.
Of course, this was anything but an everyday affair, as reflected by the VIPs in the audience. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was joined by two of his predecessors, Gavin Newsom and Willie Brown. Senator Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and defense secretary Leon Panetta, described by Obama as a "big Giants fan," joined the full house that included players' wives, team employees and the families of the club's chief investors. The investors themselves squeezed in among the three rows of players, coaches and clubhouse and support staff situated behind the president's lectern.
Maybe this affair should have been shown live to fans on the video board at AT&T Park. It was that Giants-centric.
After introducing Willie Mays, who drew a prolonged ovation, Obama recalled flying with the Giants legend to the 2009 All-Star Game at St. Louis. "Very rarely on Air Force One am I the second-most important guy on the plane," Obama said, referring to Mays' universal popularity.
Reciting some of the legend and lore of Tim Lincecum, whose surname he stumbled over briefly, Obama cited the right-hander's mastery in the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas. He concluded by saying, "America learned sometimes it's a good idea to bet on the skinny guy" -- linking himself to Lincecum, whom he flashed a thumbs-up.
Obama summarized Wilson thus: "Underneath Brian's beard and his Spandex tuxedo and his sea captain's costume and the cleats with his face on them is also one of the most dominant closers in baseball."
Obama also credited the Giants for their charitable efforts and community outreach. Though he didn't specifically cite Barry Zito's "Strikeouts for Troops" program, he mentioned the team's commitment to "wounded warriors and their families." Obama also lauded the Giants for being the first professional sports team to back the It Gets Better Project, which helps gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teenagers struggling with their identities and the scorn they receive from others. Obama taped a public-service announcement to amplify It Gets Better's message, as did the Giants.
After Obama posed for a group photo with the ballclub, grasping one side of the "44" jersey as Mays held the other, the audience briefly but spontaneously chanted, "Let's go Giants!"
Even with portraits of George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt staring at them and chandeliers hanging over their heads, many people apparently felt at home.