Madison Bumgarner, 25, honored as Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year, showed up to accept the honor in the first suit he has ever owned, according to Tom Verducci of SI. Bumgarner hails from rural North Carolina, and even wore blue jeans at his own wedding.
Former president Bill Clinton offered an introduction to Bumgarner in New York City before he received the award, waxing eloquent about subjects with which he is deeply familiar: baseball and teamwork. Clinton began about Bumgarner’s magical postseason, “I doubt that I’ll ever see anything like that again.”
The 42nd president told the assembled:
A 25-year-old man wins two games, saves the seventh game, pitches over 50 innings in the post-season, had a 1.03 ERA; even I can count that high. It’s a gift to be reminded that greatness in athletics is about more than physical talent. In the end, it’s a matter of the mind and the heart as well. That was the gift you gave all Americans who love baseball, we thank you for that … We’re all on teams; and people played with us in the game of life and helped us to become what we are.
Clinton, whose glimpses at his notes to check which team he was talking about suggested he may not have seen “anything like that” in the first place, explained: “It was the Giants that won the World Series. Whenever we forget about that, we get in trouble.”
“The real reason that, for all of us, sports are so important to participate in as well as to watch,” the former president concluded, “is that it teaches us no matter how gifted we are or smart we think we are, time is passing and some day somebody will be taller, faster, stronger than we are, but as long as there is breath in us and good intentions, we can be on a team, and that will make all the difference.”