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In Politically Divided Washington, US Congressional Baseball Game Takes It to Field

  • Ken Bredemeier

Police investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, 14, 2017.

In politically divided Washington, one mostly annual tradition lives on, with congressional Democrats and Republicans squaring off in a charity baseball game.

Washingtonians not attuned to the political infighting in Congress largely ignore the event. But Thursday's scheduled game set for Nationals Park, home of the city's professional baseball team, quickly drew national attention Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for the game at a field in Alexandria, Virginia, not far from the U.S. Capitol where the lawmakers have their offices.

Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks with the media on Capitol Hill, May 17, 2017 in Washington.
Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks with the media on Capitol Hill, May 17, 2017 in Washington.

Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana was wounded, shot in the hip, and a congressional staff aide was also hit. Two security officers guarding Scalise were also struck before their return fire stopped the gunman.

The game itself has been noteworthy largely for its misplays on the field by politicians who might have had some athletic prowess in their younger years. But it has become a Washington summertime fixture, a chance for lawmakers to have some fun away from the political barbs they trade day after day over the contentious policy issues they debate in Congress.

The game has been played 79 times since 1909. The two political parties have each won 39 times and tied once. In recent years, with a $10 or $15 admission charged, the game has been turned into a charity event to benefit Washington-area literacy and youth groups.

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