Members of Congress again stepped up to the plate for charity. It was the 2019 edition of the Congressional Baseball Game, played before two deeply partisan audiences on a warm Wednesday night, June 26. Republican fans lined the first-base side of Washington Nationals Park, while Democratic supporters occupied the third-base side.
The Dems continued their recent dominance of the event, winning 14-7 in a three-hour marathon. It was their 10th victory in the last 11 years, mostly behind the pitching and hitting of Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana). The longtime nemesis of the GOP riased his career-win total to eight without a loss. Only one time in a nine-year span has Richmond not finished a game: a no-decision in a 9-7 Republican win two years ago, when he was hobbled by an injury.
The Republicans got off to a quick start, scoring three runs in their first at-bat, but the Dems would score the next 11 runs. Richmond would eventually throw 157 pitches in the seven-inning game.
It was a sloppy game with numerous fielding miscues. The Democrats stole 23 bases with nary a runner being thrown out. Raul Ruiz (D-California) was victimized by the “hidden ball trick,” one of baseball’s rarest plays and one its most embarrasing, when a runner is tagged out after the fielder fakes giving the ball back to the pitcher.
Two women participated in the game in a reserve role, California Democratic Reps. Linda Sanchez and Nanette Diaz Barragan. Sanchez wore her traditional uniform number IX, a salute to the 1972 landmark Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity, including school sports, that receives federal funding.
In what may be a first for the sport, the baseball for the first pitch was brought onto the field by a horse, one of the Budweiser Clydesdales, escorted by country music star Big Kenny of the band Big & Rich. Kenny would later lead the crowd in a rousing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins made an attempt to throw out the first pitch, but it landed about 30 feet short. (Stick to your day job, Josh.)
In prior years, players from both sides would wear uniforms from schools and teams associated with their home districts. Perhaps hoping to change their luck, the Republican team wore identical red jerseys with white pants.
The game marked the return to play of Lousiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who was seriously injured two years ago when a gunman opened fire on the Republican practise field. A designated player took over running duties for Scalise, the game’s leadoff hitter, who received an ovation when his name was announced.
The game raised $1.3 million for the Congressional Sports for Charity foundation, which supports the Washington Literacy Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund, honoring officers at the scene of the 2017 shooting. Tim Johnson, a former congressional staffer and a founding member of Congressional Sports for Charity, who died a year ago, was honored with the creation of a new memorial scholarship in his name.
The Congressional Baseball game, with several interruptions, dates back to 1909, when William Howard Taft was president. With the win, the Democrats evened the series at 42-42 with one tie. The game has been held at Nats Park since 2008.
The game was video-streamed by WTOP for the sixth year, and by C-Span, and audio streamed on Federal News Radio.
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the 2019 Congressional Baseball Game by clicking on the photo icons below.