Over 60 members of congress assembled at Nationals Park last Thursday night to take part in a timeless American tradition – baseball. The men and women who serve our country on Capitol Hill rallied to play the 50th annual Congressional Baseball game. Politics aside, the evening played host to an informal grudge match between the Democrats and Republicans that even an independent voter could enjoy.
For the members of congress involved in the game, winning was the top priority for both sides. “This game is important because it’s the one time a year that we get to gather and argue about things other than politics,” Republican Connie Mack IV of Florida said.
“It gets heated. People are into it,” Mack said. “We want to win. At the end of the day, we’re all competitive people who want to win. [But] last year was fun […] every year has been fun that we do this.”
Mack has baseball in the blood, though. He happens to be the great grandson of baseball legend Connie Mack. Mack made his professional player debut on September 11, 1886 for the Washington Nationals but he was also the longest serving manager in the game’s history. During his lifetime, he tallied up jobs as a player, manager and then became an owner for the Philadelphia Athletics.
Mack IV wore a vintage Athletics jersey at Nationals Park that night, bringing his great grandfather’s legacy to life for a few innings under the sunshine and ballpark lights. “For me and my family this feels like homecoming,” Mack said. “Baseball is in our blood. It’s part of our tradition. For our country it reminds us that in good times and in bad, baseball has always been there. It feeds a part of our soul.”
The Democrats pulled off an 8-2 victory thanks to some superb MVP play from rookie player Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana. Richmond played baseball for Morehouse College and made his impression from the mound and the plate during Thursday’s game.
His performance induced over 10 strikeouts and held the Republicans to a complete game shutout until the final inning of play when Republican Steve Pearce from New Mexico broke up the no-hit bid. A seventh inning rally looked possible for the Republicans. They even broke out the rally caps inside the dugout. But with two outs and a weak night against Richmond’s dominant performance, two runs were all they could muster.
Richmond contributed the Democrats success to his teammates, despite the consistent chants from the crowd announcing the pitcher as the night’s MVP. “Those guys, my team, they’re just a great group of guys and they’re just so fun to hang with,” Richmond said.
“I just kept telling them all week and for the last three weeks that if you all hit the ball like we’ve been hitting the ball then nobody can beat us.”
Everywhere he walked in the capital, Richmond had people telling him “Cedric, we’re depending on you,” but he didn’t crumble under the pressure. “Fortunately for six innings I pitched really good and then I kind of squeaked my way through the last inning.”