Since 1909, Republican and Democratic congressmen and senators have gathered annually to compete in a congressional baseball game.
As expected, this year the Republicans lost to the Democrats in a 14-to-7 defeat. The Democrats have won for the past eight years. Despite having 44 players to the Democrat’s 28-member roster, the Republicans still couldn’t keep up.
Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, has long been the bane of the Republican team’s existence. The 44-year old athletic pitcher is the star of the Democrat team.
Though the teams are male-dominated, there are two women on the Democrat team, both from California. However, the women of Congress had the opportunity to strut their stuff at the congressional softball game in June. Instead of Republicans versus Democrats, the softball game pits members of Congress against reporters. The members lost to the “Bad News Babes” in a 10-to-4 defeat.
The congressional baseball game supports the Washington Literacy Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. After the 2017 game, the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund was added as a charity.
On June 14, 2017, a shooter opened fire while Republican members of Congress practiced for the game. Then House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was badly injured, as well as members of his security detail, David Bailey and Crystal Griner. Matt Mika, a Washington agriculture lobbyist and baseball coach to the Republican team, was also shot. That year, the stadium was packed and overflowed with a spirit of bipartisan unity.
This year, several guests of honor showed up at Nationals Park to cheer on their respective teams, including Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Though the first game occurred more than 100 years ago, it has been cancelled several times throughout the decades. According to the Congressional baseball game website, “In 1914, Speaker James Beauchamp ‘Champ’ Clark of Missouri became frustrated with the Congressional Baseball Game interfering with legislative business. An Appropriations bill on Civil War cotton damage was to be debated on the House Floor, but a quorum was not present. Speaker Clark sent the Sergeant at Arms to American League Field to return the members to the House Chamber. When the Sergeant at Arms arrived, rain had already canceled the game. The House eventually achieved a quorum, but adjourned without making progress on the bill because Members remained preoccupied with their unfinished work on the baseball diamond.”
Today, the seating in Nationals Park is divided amongst political parties. The first base side is Republican territory, and the third base side is Democrat territory. A portion of seats behind home plate is a bipartisan mix.
The congressional baseball game has big name sponsors, offering branded swag to the crowd, which mostly consists of Capitol Hill staffers. For $10 to $15 per ticket, staffers can get all the T-shirts, phone chargers, stress balls, pennant flags and ball caps their heart’s desire. The red and blue foam fingers are always my favorite freebie.
Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.