WASHINGTON – There’s one day a year where members of Congress put down their pens, hang up their ties and travel a mile south of Capitol Hill to pick up a bat and a glove. No, it is not debate night, rather the annual Congressional Baseball Game between Republicans and Democrats.
A June staple for politicians and government employees alike, the game represents rare bi-partisan cooperation in Washington D.C. In the event, which has taken place nearly every year since 1909 and has been at Nationals Park since 2008, Republican Congress members take on Democratic Congress members in a once-a-year celebration and raise money for charity.
In the 2019 edition the Republicans were prim and proper, all wearing the same red-and-white uniforms––red shirts with white numbers and white pants––to match their party’s colors. In the opposite dugout, the Democrats all paid homage to their local communities. Each wore a unique jersey from a semi-professional baseball team in or near their district.
Like in the Capitol, those donning red sat on the right of home plate and those sporting blue were on the left, fans and players alike. Although it was billed as bi-partisan, the cheers were far from it, as was the final score of the ball game. The Democrats ran away with it for the third year in a row 14-7, tying the all-time record between the two parties.
Each top halves of innings saw the right side of the park roar and the bottom half witnessed several waves from blue flags and celebratory whoops.
There was one time the cheers were unified across Nationals Park. When Steve Scalise (R-La.) stepped into the batter’s box to lead off the ball game the crowd collectively rose for a standing ovation.
Scalise, who was shot two years ago at a practice for the 2017 event, has become the focus of the game for the past two years. In 2018 he made an emotional return to the field in the midst of his recovery and was able to record an early out before being replaced on the field.
This year the right-handed batter proudly started the game off swinging on a dropped strike three. A runner playing in his spot made it to first before the throw.
“I’ve come a long way since last year. I could barely move, I literally had no lateral movement,” Scalise said to a pool of reporters pregame. “I’m here to help win the game; hopefully they don’t need me to be a pinch-runner. That probably wouldn’t be a good sign.”
Sending a teammate to first base allowed the Republicans to start the game off with three runs in the first frame. It was the only lead the red-wearing team would have.
And in an uncommon fashion, all members of Congress were able to leave a joint session feeling accomplished. No matter the result, together they raised $1.3 million for local charities. Fathers and mothers were able to play games of catch on a baseball diamond. Any frustrations from prior weeks in the House were able to be safely displayed in an appropriate manner.
But like Republican Andy Biggs (Az.) said, it is a “one-game season,” and despite a spirited sixth inning comeback attempt, this season was won by the Democrats.
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