Rowe: Beavers to meet Prez

An Ashland resident is taking his first trip to Washington, D.C., next month, but he is more elated about a baseball team reunion rather than an invitation from the president to visit the nation's capital.

Bill Rowe and the rest 2006 national championship-winning Oregon State University Beavers have been invited to meet President Bush and to tour the White House and the city's memorials, the former Ashland High and Oregon State first baseman said Thursday.

"In terms of me and my friends, if we had to choose between playing in another College World Series and meeting the president, we'd choose playing in another College World Series," Rowe said of the Sept. 21 trip. "But it's another opportunity to be with the guys."

Rowe found out about this when two of his former coaches contacted him, one being head coach Pat Casey, who sent him a text message.

"We had talked about it before," said Rowe, who transferred from the University of California, Santa Barbara, to Oregon State for his senior year. "A lot of other teams got to go and we didn't hear about it until last week."

The first time President Bush invited a championship-winning team to Washington was during his first term in 2001, when he honored the University of Oklahoma's football and softball teams at the White House on March 5.

In his college career, Rowe was a four-year starter at first base, a position he filled for three years at the UCSB before transferring to OSU, where he also was No. — on the depth chart.

"To get the chance to come home was great, it was my senior year," Rowe said, adding that there was more to gain playing in the Beaver State. "It was really nice to be at my home state and be around my friends and family for my senior year."

And when he played in front of the people he loves, Rowe didn't let them down. During the 2006 season, he hit .349 with six home runs and 56 RBIs in 66 games. He also scored the winning run in Game — of the CWS against the University of North Carolina and hit a key home run in Game 2. It was the Beavers' first title in 44 years. A title the team would defend in 2007, but this time without Rowe, as his intercollegiate sports eligibility had expired.

Rowe and a few of his former teammates made sure to support their classmates.

"We went out there and got a chance to go back to Omaha (Neb.) and watch," said Rowe, who is right now working on being an actor and a producer, and finishing his philosophy degree at OSU. "It was kind of weird to watch from the stands."

Being a spectator was not the only thing making Rowe feel strange, as he is still wondering why President Bush invited an Oregon baseball team to the White House.

"I know he's a huge baseball fan," Rowe said of Bush, "but it's weird because why would he want a team to come from this state? Oregon has such a liberal influence.

"I can't say that I'm thrilled to meet this one of all the other ones," he said. "If I can think of any president to meet, I think George Bush would be close to the bottom."

And even though Rowe said he is a "liberal thinker" who would rather meet Presidents John F. Kennedy, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, he understands the meaning of this trip.

"I've talked to my buddies who got to go and have seen pictures," he said. "I guess I might be more surprised than I realize. There's not a lot of opportunities that come up like this, and I get to be with everyone, so that will be fun."

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