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Dems, GOP join on ballfield as they don’t in Congress

  • Injured Capitol Hill Police officer David Bailey, center, holds his hand over his heart during the National Anthem with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa, far right, before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Injured aide Zach Barth, left, and Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, also on crutches walk off the field before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Injured Capitol Hill Police officer David Bailey throws out a ceremonial first pitch with Joe Torre, MLB's Chief Baseball Officer, right, watching, before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Steve Garvey, former Los Angeles Dodgers player, leads a prayer for the Republican team before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Both teams form a line between first and second base as a moment of silence is observed for all those injured in attack at the Republican team's practice, before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Supporters of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., hold signs before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., left, walks with Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • A message from President Donald Trump is shown on the video board before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon



Associated Press
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Republicans and Democrats joined in friendly rivalry Thursday at their annual Congressional Baseball game, many fresh from the penetrating horror of the ballfield shooting rampage a day earlier and all playing in honor of their grievously wounded colleague.

The game at Nationals Park carried on a century-old bipartisan ritual, this one tinged with worry about Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise and their determination to answer the attack by coming together in sport.

A huge ovation swept the park when Special Agent David Bailey, one of the Capitol Police officers injured in the attack on Republicans at their ball practice in Virginia, threw out the first pitch. “ONE FAMILY,” proclaimed a sign in the crowd. The announcer’s mention of Scalise, the House majority whip who was critically wounded in the attack Wednesday, brought the masses to their feet.

Breaking from their partisan rancor at least for now, members of Congress from both parties gathered together in prayer around second base as fans chanted “USA, USA,” before they took the field. Many of the players wore Louisiana State University hats in honor of Scalise, a graduate of the school. The House majority whip remained in critical condition Thursday night after multiple surgeries, though word came from the hospital during the game that he had improved.

“By playing tonight we are showing the world that we will not be intimidated by threats, acts of violence or assaults on our democracy,” said President Donald Trump, appearing on the park’s giant screen but not attending. “The game will go on.”

When the president intoned three words he said have brought Americans together for generations – “Let’s play ball” – cheers rang out. But despite the unifying nature of the event, there were boos for the president, too, from the section for Democratic fans on the third base side.

Before the event, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters, “Tonight we will go to the game, play our hardest, but we will all be Team Scalise.”

Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee scored in the first inning, enjoying a different sort of adrenaline than the one he experienced Wednesday when he passed by the shooter over bloodied ground to take shelter in a dugout – confessing later that “the fear factor was horrific.”

Rep. Roger Williams of Texas, taken away in a stretcher with an injured ankle from the chaos in Virginia, hobbled around the third-base box Thursday night, coaching the GOP team as planned, with his crutches set aside. He wore a purple boot and gear from LSU. His aide, Zack Barth, who was shot by the Virginia assailant, walked across the field on crutches. Both had appeared on the House floor earlier Thursday.

From the stands, Vince Wetzel, a resident of Sacramento, Calif., who is visiting Washington and decided to take in the game, said, “It’s just a good call to put aside political differences and just play some baseball.”

Lucee Laursen of La Crosse, Wis., interning in the capital for a nonprofit, said, “It’s showing that we might have differences in political spheres but we come together for a good cause.”

Scalise was fielding balls at second base during the practice Wednesday when he was shot in the hip, and sustained serious injuries as the bullet traveled through his pelvis and injured internal organs.