This Year's Congressional Charity Baseball Game Had A Different Meaning...
On Wednesday, a violent leftist opened fire at the Republican’s baseball practice for the annual charity Congressional game.
The shooter injured five people including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from the Louisiana. The shooter was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Capitol Police. Scalise was rushed to the hospital where he remains in critical condition following surgery.
It was announced Thursday morning that the game would go on as a show of unity after the horrendous shooting.
Democrats and Republicans briefly had a moment of solidarity as they took to the field to play America’s pastime.
Republicans and Democrats took the field for their annual charity baseball game Thursday, setting aside politics for a few hours of spirited competition a day after a shooting rampage left a wounded colleague fighting for survival.
The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, played before a record crowd, took on a more serious tone this year, as organizers and attendees said it was a chance to show the nation that more unites Americans of both parties than divides them, and that the event could not be shut down by a gunman.
"I have some friends who are interns who were talking about going, and after the shooting, I mean, I have to go," said Emily Cleveland of Danville, Ill., as she entered Nationals Park for the game. "I think it's a big statement that they're still having it. I think it's saying a lot because it's America's pastime. It's a really American thing to do, to just go ahead anyway."
As a show of support toward Scalise, many wore items from his alma mater.
Lawmakers donned Louisiana State University ball caps in Scalise's honor during the game, which Democrats won 11-2. Louisiana Democrat Cedric Richmond, a personal friend of Scalise, was the winning pitcher, as he has been in all but one of the games since his election to Congress in 2010.
The lawmakers decided to take a knee at Scalise’s position and said a prayer for him. President Donald Trump also made a digital appearance at the game.
Just before the game, Democratic and Republican players knelt together in prayer near second base, where Scalise would have been playing. The crowd chanted "USA! USA!"
Later, the crowd burst into applause as Capitol Police officer David Bailey — who was injured as he pursued the shooter — hobbled to the mound on crutches and tossed the ceremonial first pitch.
President Trump delivered a videotaped statement, saying that playing game this year is evidence that "we will not be intimidated by threats, acts of violence, or assaults on our Democracy. The game will go on.”
The shooting did not turn people away from the game. In fact, the stadium was at record attendance this year.
"Last year we set records with $500,000 raised for charity and 10,000 fans, and already we're topped $1 million in donations and sold more than 20,000 tickets" before game time, said Sean Brown, a volunteer with Congressional Sports Foundation that organizes the event.
That total was all pre-game online sales, and almost half of it came since Wednesday, Brown said. The scoreboard announced final attendance Thursday was a new record: 24,959.
"Were in town because we're tourists and I mean I heard about the shooting and I was like, 'Wow, it would be cool to come today to show support for the congressmen,'" said Otis Amick of Phoenix. "I think a good turnout today would be a good statement against what happened yesterday."
The House Leadership of both parties gave their first ever joint interview.
In a joint interview with CNN, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — both decked out in LSU garb — said the game was a symbol of unity for a divided congress.
“Tonight we are all Team Scalise,” Pelosi said…
“We need to find more opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to break bread, I mean literally just go have meals with one another, travel with each other, do things with one another," he (Ryan) said. "There are not enough relationship-building exercises between Republicans and Democrats. We’ve got more work to do on that.”
This year’s game benefitted fallen Capitol Police officers, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, the Washington Literacy Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington.