John Ensign pitches to Heath Shuler. Yes, that John Ensign. And yes, that Heath Shuler.
Walking into Nationals Park Wednesday night, we would have thought it any other night, with all the familiar sights and smells -- beer vendors, hot dogs and baseball caps. But the Nats were battling it out in the Bronx (and, it turns out, they finally won a game!).
Wednesday night at Nats Park was about two political parties going head-to-head in yet another rivalry, this one at the 48th annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.
The game got off to a slow start until the Democrats took a 6-0 lead in the second inning. Was this going to be an easy win for the Dems, like a certain presidential race earlier this year? Not so fast, our friend! The Republicans stormed back, with the help of Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.D), and tied up the game at the end of the third inning.
Both teams had valuable players, like Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), who played as a part-time pitcher and used to be a semi-pro ballplayer. Second baseman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) used to play center field at the University of South Dakota. Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) was inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining past players such as Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), who was honored with the award in 1997.
Sure, congressional members' ability on the baseball field wasn't the best (we warned you, remember?), but that was overshadowed by the crowd's enthusiasm. Spectators came to cheer on their favorite reps. Democratic fans sat to the left of the field, Republicans to the right -- go figure. Although the Dem crowd was much bigger, the Republicans came with ammunition: posters that said "Go" with a picture of (what else?) an elephant.
Most members struck out fast (but we're not complaining, since baseball games are so long, anyway), and the game that came "down to defense" ended with a Democratic 15-10 victory -- their first win since 2000.
Proceeds from the game went to the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington. Last year's game raised $140,000 for the charities.