Politics aside for Scalise’s return

It has been a year since Republican lawmakers gathered to practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game when a lone gunman wreaked havoc on the field.

Before being shot and killed by heroic Capitol Police officers, the gunman managed to hit four people on the field. Among those was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Congressman from Louisiana.

After a year of about 10 surgeries and round after round of rehabilitation, Scalise made his triumphant return to the field at Nationals Park, on June 14, to play second basemen in the Congressional Baseball Game.

After the shooting, not only did Scalise have to learn how to walk again—he also had to learn to play ball again. The event shook Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike. The Democrat team members even broke a 100-year tradition and welcomed Scalise to their practice this year.

The two Capitol Police officers who were shot at the practice, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, returned fire and ended the potential massacre. They had the honor of throwing out the first pitches of the evening.

A member of the Washington agriculture community was also badly injured that morning at practice. Agriculture lobbyist and Republican coach Matt Mika took a bullet in the chest and endured multiple surgeries.

Ultimately, the Republicans fell to the Democrats. And boy did they fall hard. The final score was 21 to 5. However, Scalise’s grounder on the first pitch really set the night in motion, and perhaps gave Republicans a little too much confidence.

The annual Congressional Baseball Game is good for Washington’s soul. Though it pits Republicans and Democrats against each other, it is truly a bipartisan event. It allows lawmakers, Congressional staff, and the public alike, time to socialize outside of the Capitol walls. Baseball is American as it gets, and you know how lawmakers are constantly proving their patriotism.

The players on this year’s teams included two women—Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love and California Democratic Rep. Nanette Barragán.

There were several House and Senate Agriculture Committee members on the field. House Agriculture Committee Chairman and Texas Republican Mike Conaway and fellow committee members California Democrat Jimmy Panetta, Texas Republican Jodey Arrington, Illinois Republican Rodney Davis, Mississippi Republican Trent Kelly, and Kansas Republican Roger Marshall all played. Meanwhile, Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly was the lone Senate Agriculture Committee member who played the game.

A yearly tradition that dates back to 1909, this year’s game marked the 57th game. In the 1950s, Speaker of the House and Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn, which has a House office building named after him, put a stop to the game due to injuries. However, in 1962 the Washington publication Roll Call restarted the game as the lead sponsor.

Proceeds from the game go to support charities, including the Washington Literacy Center, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation along with the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund.

Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.