WASHINGTON -- The tour of the White House began very well, when Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and six of his players met the most important man in the country. For about 20 minutes on Friday morning, the Phillies spoke with President George W. Bush, a big baseball fan. "I didn't expect him to take the time out of his schedule to speak to us," Brett Myers said. "It was cool. He compared his job to what we do, and I thought, 'How can you even compare that?' He's got to worry about everything. All we worry about is playing the game."
"Most of us were in awe," Cole Hamels added. "That man is in charge of the most powerful country in the world. I think that's very impressive -- for him to know your name." Myers, Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, Manuel and director of team travel Frank Coppenbarger spent the morning at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where they received a private meeting with Bush and were also given a tour of the White House. "I couldn't believe I was there," Howard said. "To meet him in the Oval Office and talk baseball with him. ... That doesn't happen every day." Bush is a well-known baseball fan, having at one time been a minority owner of the Texas Rangers. He regularly invites players to visit his home, and the Phillies were more than happy to attend. The players also met with former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Sen. Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania. Despite wanting to, Howard said none of the players sat behind Bush's desk. The players learned about the building's history and saw the furniture, portraits and items which date back to the 1800s. Bush even showed the players some of the cooler "top secret" features of the White House, according to Hamels. "We walked through this tunnel, and the guy told us that every president has walked this path to get to the Oval Office," Myers said. "I told him, 'You might want to fix the floor, because we might trip and fall.' It was shaky. It had a couple of cracks in it." Despite the uneven floor, Myers hopes his next visit to the White House is as a member of the 2007 World Series championship team. "Hopefully, we'll be back there in October with the championship," Myers said. Hall of Justice: Superman, Wonder Woman, the tooth fairy and just about every other bizarre character showed up in the visitors' clubhouse after the Phillies' 6-3 win over the Nationals on Friday. That could mean only one thing: It was time for rookie hazing. And that meant a masquerade this season, with the Major League newcomers subjected to hideous outfits, wigs and out-of-style ladies' wear. "I wanted this," said Chris Coste, who looked dashing in a Superman costume. "I was disappointed that they left me out last year." Coste made up for it in 2007, as he became one of 11 targets sought out by masterminds Aaron Rowand and wingman Kyle Lohse. "Some of us look better than others," Coste said. "Much better." Drawing the loudest roars were Michael Bourn's Wonder Woman, John Ennis' beer-keg ensemble, which resembled the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz," J.D. Durbin's diaper and the busty tooth fairy outfit was given to David Yammamoto, the interpreter for Tadahito Iguchi. Yes, not even the interpreter or batting-practice pitcher Ali Modami were exempt. "You would think, but I guess not," Modami said. If nothing else, it shows a loose Phillies clubhouse, where players seem unaffected by the pressure of a National League pennant race. And who knows, maybe their alter-egos can help. "We got Wonder Woman and the tooth fairy," Myers said. "It's huge for our morale to have superheroes. We have a maid [in Kyle Kendrick]; she'll be coming later.
"Maybe Superman can fly to Miami and take care of the Mets for us."Paul Owens winners: Reliever Mike Zagurski, who soared from Class A-Clearwater to the Major Leagues this season, and Lakewood outfielder Quintin Berry were named Paul Owens Award winners as the organization's 2007 top minor-league player and pitcher of the year. g Zagurski, 24, debuted in the big leagues in late May, He went 1-0 with a 5.91 ERA in 25 games before his season ended in August with a season-ending hamstring injury. The lefty was selected over Carlos Carrasco (12-6 with a 3.86 ERA at Clearwater and Reading) and Andrew Carpenter (17-6 with a 3.20 ERA at Clearwater). Carrasco won the award in 2006. Berry, 22, batted .312 with three homers with 44 RBIs and 55 steals with Single-A Lakewood. He was selected in the fifth-round draft pick in 2006. Quotable: "We'll probably keep everyone we got. Most teams carry nine or 10, but we might go to 15." -- Manuel, joking about how many pitchers he might keep active in a playoff series. The Phillies have used a franchise-record 28 pitchers this season, including 10 rookies. Coming up: Kendrick (9-4, 4.05 ERA), who's scheduled to face Nationals righty Tim Redding (3-5, 3.73) on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET, yielded three runs on seven hits over six innings in his previous outing on Monday in St. Louis.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.