Sunday, August 25, 2013
Kasten connected Obama to Doc Rivers
By Gordon Edes
Stan Kasten, the Dodgers president and CEO who previously held the same posts for the Washington Nationals, shared this story involving President Barack Obama, Doc Rivers and Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
"It was, I guess, three years ago -- 2010," Kasten said. "We had drafted Strasburg the year before and it was June when we called Strasburg up, and he was a national phenomenon, as you recall. So now it's late June, a Thursday night, and the Celtics lose Game 7 here in L.A. to the Lakers. I'm still close, and have been all these years, with Doc Rivers. He played for me in Atlanta, I was at his wedding. So I text him the next morning: 'I love you, great, great season.' He texted me back. 'Thanks. I'm going to come see your kid pitch as soon as I get a chance.'
"That night, a Friday night we're in interleague play, we're playing the White Sox -- the president's team. And he also hasn't seen Strasburg pitch, so the president comes to the game.
"So I'm up in the suite, chatting with him and I happen to mention that I had texted Doc that morning. The president is a basketball guy, a Chicago guy. So is Doc. And the president says, 'You know, I tried to call him because I don't call just the winners, I also call the losers, but I couldn't get through.'
"So he says, 'Can you get him?' I'm thinking, no way the Secret Service is going to let him talk on an unsecured phone, but he says, 'If you can get him, I'll talk to him.'
"I'm thinking, Doc is like a player. You can't get him on the phone, you've got to text. But I get my phone, I hit the numbers, three rings, Doc answers. 'Hey, Stan, how you doing?'
"I go, 'Doc, I love you, I'm proud of ya, I want to talk to you, but I've got someone sitting next to me who wants to say hello.'
"And -- I've always wanted to say this -- 'Will you hold for the president?'
"And I handed him my phone, and he talks to him."
Now Kasten's voice gets louder. "On my phone! Because the president could not get through to him! Only I could!"
Postscript to the story: Kasten said he kept it to himself, until he heard that Rivers had told a bunch of friends back home at his country club in Orlando, Fla. Rivers said he'd seen the "202” area code when the president had called, Kasten said, "but he thought it was me."
"And now he's here," Kasten said of Rivers, the new coach of the Clippers.
Kasten said Rivers had not been out to see the Dodgers yet. Might he come this weekend for the Red Sox series? Kasten gave it his best Cheshire smile. "You never know," he said.