"Knowing of your intense interest in covering the visit of the World Series champion, the Kansas City Royals, we thought we would get the briefing out of the way so that then you could focus on what I'm sure is the big news story at the White House," he declared at the start of the news briefing.
Earnest, for his part, makes no secret of his love for the Royals. He regularly sips from a blue mug bearing the team's emblem during his daily briefing, and he tweeted a photo Thursday morning of him proudly displaying his baseball-themed hosiery.
But Thursday's celebration was, by any measure, the ultimate in wish fulfillment. Just after Earnest started lecturing reporters on the merits of Democrats' financial regulation reform, Royals manager Ned Yost burst into the James S. Brady Briefing Room along with a couple of players to hand the press secretary a personalized team jersey and a massive mug.
"Look, we had a real fear that Josh would get in trouble by hijacking the president's jersey, so we made a special one for him," Yost said.
"Look at that. Thank you. I really appreciate it," said Earnest, who had already shown off his Royals socks to the entire press corps a few minutes earlier. "Look at this. This looks great. This is a big moment."
Less than two hours later, Obama recognized several dignitaries in the East Room — including former Senate majority leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and the mayors of both Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. — before singling out Earnest, who was seated in the front row with his family.
"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," Obama said. "But this is close. This is really close."
"I notice he has his son here, training him — even though he’s more interested right now in sucking his thumb — to be a proper Royals fan," the president continued. "And let’s face it, it’s been a long road for Royals fans. There’s been some dark years, some tough decades."