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White House is next stop for Yankees

White House is next stop for Yankees

The Yankees' road-trip itinerary contains one additional stop, and it will not be found on any pocket schedule -- the White House.

President Barack Obama will be welcoming the team through the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday afternoon, congratulating them on their 2009 World Series victory.

The meeting will take place on a scheduled off-day before the Yankees visit the Orioles in Baltimore, coming off their six-game West Coast set against the Athletics and Angels.

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"I think everyone enjoys trips to the White House, because not everyone has the opportunity to do it," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "If you have that opportunity, I think it's something that people remember."

With the official White House visit as the primary event, the Yankees will turn their three-day presence in the vicinity of the capital into a showcase tour of the World Series trophy, highlighted by a Tuesday visit with Supreme Court Justice and Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor.

Prior to President Obama's reception on Monday afternoon, Yankees players, coaches and executives will take the trophy to Walter Reed Medical Center and the Malone House. Led by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, club president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees party will visit with wounded soldiers.

The trophy tour will continue Tuesday at various Washington, D.C., locations, highlighted by an afternoon audience with Sotomayor.

Just four Yankees -- Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera -- remain from the championship club that was welcomed to the White House by President George W. Bush in 2001 to acknowledge their five-game Subway Series victory over the Mets.

"It's a privilege you get whenever you win the World Series," Pettitte said. "It's definitely going to be fun, for sure.

"Growing up, seeing the Oval Office, you see the president talking and stuff like that. All of a sudden, you're standing there. It's like the first time you go to Fenway [Park] or the first time you go to Wrigley Field -- that's what it kind of was for me."

Jeter remembers being star-struck in his first White House visit in 1997, when President Bill Clinton stuck out his hand and greeted him with, "Hey, Derek, how you doing?"

"Not too many people get an opportunity to meet the president," Jeter said. "It's kind of awkward when they know who you are, you know what I mean? That was probably the weirdest thing."

Jeter's exchange with President Bush before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series has been marked in history. Wearing a bullet-proof vest under an FDNY sweater in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Jeter spoke with Bush in the catacombs of the old Yankee Stadium and urged him to throw the ceremonial first pitch from the top of the mound.

"Don't bounce it," Jeter told him. "They'll boo you."

Bush threw a strike to backup catcher Todd Greene before watching the game from George Steinbrenner's private box. Jeter said he also had been able to spend time in the Oval Office during the Yankees' 2001 visit with Bush.

"It's sort of like being in Steinbrenner's office," Jeter said, grinning. "It's pretty similar."

Someone mentioned that Steinbrenner's office might actually have been more intimidating for the Yankees' shortstop.

"In a funny way, yeah, because usually you're in trouble sitting behind his desk," he replied.

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is among those who received his first World Series ring from 2009, but it won't be his first trip to the White House. Teixeira was a guest of President Bush in 2005 when he welcomed Texas Rangers president Tom Hicks and several players to the Oval Office to talk baseball before a game against the Orioles.

"[This is] for a better reason," Teixeira said. "Anytime you get a chance to visit the White House as world champions and get recognized as world champions, that's special."

Several of the Bombers have already exchanged pleasantries with President Obama, who made an appearance at last year's All-Star Game in St. Louis.

Obama greeted Jeter, Rivera and Teixeira in the clubhouse before the contest, later referring to Jeter in one interview as "a classic."

"He was quite interesting," Rivera said. "He was wonderful. He knew about the cutter, which was great. He said, 'Keep throwing that cutter.' Outstanding. I always wanted to meet him and thank God I had the chance."

Last April 7, a contingent of 22 Yankees players, coaches and members of the support staff also took advantage of the White House's proximity to Baltimore, receiving a 90-minute guided tour through the West Wing, Rose Garden and Oval Office, though Obama was overseas in Iraq at the time.

"It's going to be interesting to compare my tour last year to this year," pitcher Joba Chamberlain said. "I think that's cool. We're going to give him a jersey, and you watch that on TV growing up -- all the teams that win get to go there. You always see him on TV, but it becomes a little more personal when you're there and it's just us kind of hanging out."

Prior to the Tuesday game against the Orioles, the Yankees will be joined on the field during batting practice by 20 invited wounded veterans from Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital -- which Yankees players will be visiting the next day, the 2009 World Series Trophy in tow.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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