Congressional Baseball Game, a Bipartisan DC Tradition, to Go on After Shooting at Practice - NBC 7 San Diego
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Congressional Baseball Game, a Bipartisan DC Tradition, to Go on After Shooting at Practice

"It's a pretty good time for all, except for the fact that the Democrats beat us so much"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    News4's Megan McGrath looks at preparations for the Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday night. (Published Thursday, June 15, 2017)

    Played every year for more than 100 years, The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity has taken on new significance as people rally around the victims of the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday and call for bipartisan unity. 

    The friendly, but competitive, game is set to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday. 

    "We must play this baseball game. If we don't play this baseball game and we go home, then they win," Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, said. One of his aides was shot and wounded. 

    It was unclear if the game at Nationals Park in Washington would go on after a gunman opened fire on the Republican team's practice in nearby Alexandria Wednesday morning, wounding a top Republican. 

    But House Speaker Paul Ryan announced to cheers in a House members' meeting that the charity game would continue as scheduled in spite of the attack, NBC News reported.

    The Virginia shooting left five people hospitalized, including Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican whip; two Capitol Police officers; a lobbyist and Williams' aide. The gunman, identified by NBC News sources as James T. Hodgkinson, from Illinois, was shot by police who responded to the scene.

    He later died, President Donald Trump announced. Congressmen said the gunman had a rifle and fired dozens of rounds.

    Democrats also were practicing Wednesday morning when word came in that the shooting occurred. Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen, D-Nev., tweeted a photo of the team praying for the safety of their colleagues.

    Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., thought it was right that the game continue Thursday.

    "Absolutely the game should go on," he said on MSNBC. "I think we should be able to to raise even more money for local D.C. charities and send a message to those who practice this type of hate."

    The game is one of the most anticipated events of summer at the Capitol, with Democrats and Republicans splitting the 79 games that have been played over the years 39-39, with one tie. Democrats were on a winning streak for several years before the Republicans won the last game in a squeaker, 8-7. 

    "It's a pretty good time for all, except for the fact that the Democrats beat us so much," Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said on CNN before describing what happened.

    Members of the House and Senate take part in the game, often wearing jerseys from their favorite teams back home. 

    The game dates back to 1909, and became popular enough by 1928 to be broadcast on the radio, according to a history of the game listed on a dedicated website.

    The Great Depression, World War II and some speakers of the House have intervened to cancel some games, but it's been a fixture since the '60s and is now a charity fundraiser.

    It is now held at Nationals Park, the home of D.C.'s major league baseball team. President Barack Obama attended the game in 2015.

    “Security and fan safety are always our top priority," a Washington Nationals representative said. "We do not discuss specific security measures.”

    Capitol Police were at the ballpark Thursday morning, and D.C. police said Wednesday they will do everything possible to keep everyone safe.

    The Republican team's manager, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, had been looking forward to a spirited game Thursday, according to Roll Call, which also sponsors the game.

    "I think after the election of President Trump, Democrats are going to be motivated to be pretty active in their chants. By the same token, I think our fans will be just as motivated," he told Roll Call last week. Barton was not hurt in the shooting.

    The Democrats' manager, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., reminded his team to "Clear your schedules. I stress that we still have a lot of work to do," he told Roll Call last week.

    Tickets for the game are still available and start at $10 each. The gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

    Video of Shooting During Congressional Baseball Practice

    [NATL-PHI] Cellphone Video of Shooting During Congressional Baseball Practice in Virginia

    WARNING: This video may be disturbing for some viewers. 

    A gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday morning, injuring four people including House Majority Whip Steven Scalise. Police previously said that five people were shot. A witness recorded cellphone video of the incident.

    (Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017)

    If you can’t make the game, WTOP will have live play-by-play coverage on 1500 AM beginning at 7 p.m.