It still hasn't sunk in that I was in President Obama's Inaugural Parade. The whole experience was amazing, and I'm so grateful to President Obama and the White Sox.
Around 11 a.m. ET on Jan. 20, a friend of mine dropped me off as close to the parade staging area as possible. I walked about seven blocks, and during that time, a lot of people asked for pictures and autographs, and I got a whole bunch of stares. It was really funny to see people's mouths fall open as I walked by. Apparently, Washington, D.C., wasn't used to a tall, furry and handsome guy like myself. Now that Barack Obama is President, I'm sure they'll see more of me.
The Secret Service was really cool with me. They knew I was coming, so getting through security was a breeze. Around 1:15 p.m., I was told to get ready because we were going to the parade route. At that moment, I found out I was going to be riding on the Illinois/Lincoln themed float with a super tall Abraham Lincoln look-alike -- just the two of us on the float!
We waited, and waited and waited some more. After a few false starts, the parade started around 4:45 p.m. I was soon going to be featured in front of President Obama and millions of viewers on television all around the world.
The parade crowd that had stuck around to watch the procession cheered for the White Sox, Chicago, Illinois and me. It was great. The parade seemed to fly by, then, all of a sudden, I saw the light. The brightest lights I have ever seen lit up the street and the President's viewing area. The Illinois float was next to be seen and announced.
My heart started to pound, and the excitement took over. I did my special "arm wave" I often do at White Sox home games, then looked toward the President and his family, and I saw him wave and smile at me! He knew who I was! We had met when he threw out the first pitch during the 2005 postseason (prior to Game 2 of the ALCS), but this was different.
He is now the most powerful man in the world, and he acknowledged me. I danced and laughed and waved my hands until I felt like they were going to fall off. It was the slowest fast minute of my life. I know that might not make sense, but feeling what I was feeling is indescribable.
It was a minute in my life that I will replay in my mind forever. It was the minute all eyes were on me, and I'll cherish it for eternity.
I got back to U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday. The White Sox front-office employees couldn't wait to see my pictures and hear my stories. I had received a lot of e-mails from White Sox fans congratulating me on being in the Presidential Inaugural Parade.
Some of the fans wrote that they were proud of me, happy that I was selected to participate and that they couldn't wait to see me in April. Now that it's been a few days since the world met Southpaw, it's been sinking in on how fortunate I am.
I'm honored to be a member of a team that treats me like gold, and I'm lucky that the President of the United States is a true White Sox fan.
Southpaw is the official mascot of the Chicago White Sox. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.