WASHINGTON - At first, Mark Teixeira couldn't quite believe his ears. Then he wasn't sure what was coming next.
During President Barack Obama's remarks Monday in the East Room as he honored the Yankees for winning their 27th world championship, he mentioned a handful of players individually as embodying what the organization stands for, both on and off the field. Teixeira was one of them.
"Before he was a three-time Golden Glove winner, Mark was a 21-year-old kid fresh out of Georgia Tech," Obama said.
Teixeira, already listening intently to the president, leaned in a bit more.
"When he first said my name, I said, oh my goodness, what's he going to say?" Teixeira said after the ceremony.
What the president did next was relay a story about Teixeira that while known - it's the last entry under "personal" in the Teixeira entry in the team's media guide - isn't that well known.
Needless to say, Obama changed that.
"Shortly after signing his first major-league contract [in 2001], Mark visited his old high school and asked how much it would cost to set up a scholarship in the name of a friend who had been killed in a car accident," Obama said. "And when he was told it would cost $75,000, he wrote a check on the spot. He's been funding that scholarship ever since - helping to make the dream of college a reality for students in his hometown."
The friend was Nick Liberatore, a close friend of Teixeira's who was killed in a car accident when the two were juniors in high school.
"I was blown away," Teixeira said of Obama's bringing up the story.
"I've always thought that baseball is just a tool for me to try to do work for other people. I've been very blessed in my career, and the first thing I did when I had a chance was that scholarship," Teixeira said. "For the president to single that out . . .
"I know Nick's family; I'm going to call them as soon as we're done here and tell them how proud they should be of Nick and the life that he led. Nick was a good friend of mine and he's always going to be in my heart and charity's always going to be in my heart. It's just a small thing that I did, it's a very small thing that I did, but what an honor for the president to mention that."