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Obama: Sox a Symbol of ‘Boston Strong’

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David "Big Papi" Ortiz takes a selfie with President Barack Obama, holding a Boston Red Sox jersey presented to him, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, where the president honored the 2013 World Series baseball champion Boston Red Sox. In the background is pitcher Koji Uehara, upper right. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David "Big Papi" Ortiz takes a selfie with President Barack Obama, holding a Boston Red Sox jersey presented to him, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, where the president honored the 2013 World Series baseball champion Boston Red Sox. In the background is pitcher Koji Uehara, upper right. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Washington — President Barack Obama welcomed the World Series champion Red Sox to the White House Tuesday, praising their triumph on the field while hailing them as a symbol of their city’s “grit and resilience” in the wake of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.

“Obviously, all the wins were sweet for Red Sox fans, but I think for the nation as a whole there was something about this particular squad that was special and will go down in history — not just not just because they went from worst to first, but because they symbolized the grit and the resilience of America’s — one of America’s iconic cities during one of its most difficult moments.”

Not all of the ceremonial greeting was quite so serious. David Ortiz, Boston’s best-known player, presented the president with a Red Sox jersey emblazoned with “Obama” and the number 44 on the back, then promptly took a cell phone picture of himself and the chief executive. “What an honor, thanks for the (hash)selfie (at)BarackObama” he quickly tweeted.

And Jonny Gomes, an outfielder, strolled the White House grounds dressed in a sports jacket that looked like an American flag, stars on one half, and stripes on the other.

Standing in front of players and team officials, Obama noted that the Red Sox have won three championships in the past decade, more than any other team.

“The bottom line is I’m proud of these guys. As a baseball fan, I appreciate their comeback season,” said Obama. “But more importantly, as President, I’m grateful for their character and their embrace of the essential role they played in the spirit of that city.

“Sometimes, sports seems like it’s trivial, it’s just an entertainment. And then, every once in a while, you’re reminded that sports represents something else and it has the power to bring people together like almost nothing can.

“And all of you should be very proud of what you accomplished. I know your fans are. And I’m grateful to you as well.” Three people were killed and more than 260 injured nearly a year ago in a bombing at the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox staged a tribute to the victims on the field and had “Boston Strong” symbols sewn into their uniforms. “The point is, Boston and the Red Sox were one,” Obama said.

“When they visited bombing victims in the hospital, when they played ball with kids getting cancer treatment, when they started a program to help wounded warriors get treatment at Mass General (Hospital), these guys were saying, ‘we’re all on the same team.’ ”

Obama, a Chicago White Sox fan, wished Boston good luck this season, then added, “May the best Sox win.”