Dems best GOP as Scalise returns for annual charity baseball game
Lawmakers shed their business attire and left partisan issues at the Capitol for a few hours on Thursday night as they took to the field for the annual Congressional Baseball Game.
Democrats defeated Republicans 21-5 in seven innings under clear skies at the 57th annual charity game at Nationals Park in southeast Washington, D.C.
Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) received a standing ovation when he took to the field and set up at second base. The crowd went wild when the first ground ball of the game went straight to him and he took the Democratic player out.
The No. 3 House Republican returned to the field one year after the shooting at a congressional GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., left him and three others wounded. Scalise suffered a shattered hip, pelvis and left femur, and severe damage to his internal organs during the shooting.
Members of the Capitol Police who were there for last year’s shooting also received applause Thursday night during the ceremonial first pitch.
“This year is really special with Steve Scalise coming back. Everybody’s healed up. Just a very positive message,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), who is in his eighth year playing in the charity game. “I love this game. I look forward to it.”
Scalise has undergone nine different surgeries and months of physical therapy since the June 2017 shooting. After leaving the hospital, he used a motorized scooter to get around the Capitol, before moving to a pair of crutches and then a single crutch.
“It’s been a tumultuous ride, the last year,” Scalise told Fox News in an interview earlier this week. “Being able to walk out onto that field again Thursday night with my uniform is going to be a special, special moment.”
Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) told The Hill that lawmakers use the annual game to develop bonds with one another.
“We try not to bring the issues into this game, because it’s more about building relationships and some camaraderie so that tomorrow I can go talk to one of my Republican colleagues about the family separation issue or about a different issue and say, ‘Look, I really need to talk to you about a serious issue,'” she said.
Some members looked at the game as a way to show off their years of experience going back to their youth.
“If I was better at baseball, I probably wouldn’t be a congressman,” quipped Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
Barragán is also a former player. In high school, she petitioned her principal to let her play baseball since at the time the team was all boys. Now, she wants to bring more female players into the congressional games.
“The other thing we can do is we can elect more young ladies who play baseball,” Barragán said. “As a matter of fact, when I talk to candidates one of the first things I say is, ‘Do you play baseball?’”
Legislators did not have to put on a uniform to support their teams this year.
An account for retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, 84, tweeted a picture of the Utah Republican in a sweater poking fun at not being in Thursday’s game.
“Senator Hatch regrets not being able to participate in the #CongressionalBaseballGame. While he enjoys sport, he runs too fast, hits too hard, and throws too well and it simply wasn’t fair to the other athletes,” the tweet said.
Some attendees showed up to Thursday’s game donning T-shirts and other swag advocating for young immigrants as Congress weighs taking action next week to offer protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“We want a future with DREAMERS! #WhatAreWeWaitingFor #CongressionalBaseballGame,” read one tweet from the LIBRE Initiative, the Hispanic arm of the network financed by the billionaire conservative Koch brothers.
Many other fans wore shirts that showed support for the current administration with “Make America Great Again” gear or advocated for their bosses’ reelection in the upcoming midterm elections.
Prominent lawmakers on the roster Thursday night included Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) as well as Reps. Mia Love (R-Utah), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), among others.
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