10/03/2003 12:00 PM ET
Palmeiro, Showalter at White House
Bush hosts Hispanic Heritage Month celebration
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rangers manager Buck Showalter and infielder Rafael Palmeiro were among the hundreds of guests honored at the Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House on Thursday afternoon.
President George W. Bush, who is a former partial owner of the Texas Rangers and an avid baseball fan, recognized the achievements of Hispanics in attendance and throughout the nation with appreciation and praise for their efforts.
The musical group Basilos, along with singers Victor Manuelle and Alexandre Pires, performed in Spanish. Teenager Katie Soto sang the National Anthem, and Lisa Guerrero, sideline reporter for ABC's "Monday Night Football," served as the master of ceremonies.
"You know, this nation is blessed by the talents and the hard work of Hispanic Americans, and we're really blessed by the values of familia y fe that strengthen our nation on a daily basis," President Bush said during the ceremony in The East Room. "It is fitting we honor Hispanic Americans in our country. It's part of our country -- an incredibly important part of our country. I also think it's fitting that the way to honor Hispanic Americans is to revel in the vitality of the Hispanic culture that was displayed today. The music that honors the roots, the rhythm, the life of the Latino."
President Bush specifically mentioned Palmeiro and Showalter.
"Obviously, the person who invited the guest list here knows I love baseball," Bush said." We've got a lot of the baseball stars here. I do love baseball. One of my favorite baseball players of all time is a person who's going to be in the Hall of Fame, and that's Rafael Palmeiro of the Texas Rangers. I want to thank you for coming. And Lynn [Palmeiro] is here. Thank you for coming, Lynn.
"I'm glad you brought your manager with you. He's not exactly a Latino ball player, but he's a fine guy, and that's Buck Showalter. Thank you for coming, Buck, and thank you for bringing your family. It's good to see you all."
Showalter was honored to be in attendance and said the trip to Washington D.C., the manager's first vacation in several years, will not be forgotten.
"As a boy, I came to Washington, D.C., with my family, and I still have fond memories of that time," Showalter said. "It was me and my three sisters in the good ol' Ford Galaxy. I remember we used to call her 'Ol' Green.' Now I can experience it through my children's eyes. The memories of Washington, D.C., are something we can share the way I did as a child."
President Bush also recognized other baseball players in attendance. The Major Leaguers were seated directly behind the President in the second and third rows with their respective families and were visibly excited when their names were mentioned.
"Magglio Ordonez of the Chicago White Sox is with us. Where are you, Magglio? Thank you, buddy," President Bush said. "Congratulations. Great season, yes. We're watching you, we've got the dish upstairs. Bartolo Colon -- donde esta Bartolo? I can see why you can throw it hard.
"Carlos Beltran, of the Kansas City Royals. Carlos, good job. Donde esta Jose Lima? There he is -- Jose. Yes. You're back. Congratulations on having a great year. Tino Martinez, St Louis Cardinals. Nelson Figueroa, of the Pirates. Where's Nelson? Thank you, Nelson. Are you sure you're old enough to qualify? [laughter] Vladimir Guerrero. Yes, Vladimir. Glad you're here, Vladimir. Thanks for coming."
While the owner of the Rangers, President Bush worked closely with an eager front-office employee with a knack for scouting named Omar Minaya. Minaya is now the general manager of the Montreal Expos and has made the President proud.
"Omar Minaya, mi amigo. Thank you for coming, Omar. And congratulations. I knew you'd make it all along," Bush said. "You're probably wondering why I didn't make you general manager of the Rangers, but nevertheless -- [laughter]. Omar is the general manager of the Montreal Expos. He really does a great job. And I've known Omar a long time. He's a great baseball guy. More important, he's a great person. I'm really proud to have you here."
Palmeiro, who sat directly behind the President during the musical performances, shared a few private moments with his long-time friend throughout the event. The veteran said he can't wait to come back to the White House next year.
"I've been here three or four times, but coming to the White House and meeting with the President is exciting every time," Palmeiro said. "I sit so close to him that I can actually touch him and talk to him. That's a really special thing. It's an honor to go to the White House any time, but especially for something like a celebration of Hispanic Heritage."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com