The Nationals Baseball team is an important facet in D.C. life—after all, what better place is there to play America’s pasttime then in the nation’s capital? During the baseball season, Nationals players grace the field for the thousands of fans who flock to the stadium. Last Thursday however, the stadium was crowded with a different group—politicians.
Each year members of Congress volunteer to play each other in the annual Congressional Baseball Game to benefit various charities around the country. What makes this event so highly anticipated is that not only are the Congressmen and women playing baseball—they’re playing along party lines. Politics are brought into baseball as Democrats play the Republicans for charity and bragging rights.
This year I was able to attend the 47th annual Congressional Baseball game, and it was a blast. As David, Lauren, Lindsay and I walked to the stadium we noticed that the crowd was flooded with people wearing blue or red depending upon their political party. Even on the metro ride it was clear who was going to the game; the metro station seemed to buzz in excitement with everyone hoping their political team would win. My group had been talking about it all week, and we were thrilled.
Within the stadium the fans were clearly divided—the blue Democrats sat behind the visitor’s dugout, while the red Republicans congregated behind home’s dugout. As players were announced for each team, a donkey or elephant was shown on the board along with the players name, picture and the jersey they were wearing. I should probably mention that each player wore a baseball jersey from a team in his or her state—professional, collegiate or high school. Yet even as the players were announced and fans cheered for their team, the atmosphere seemed to ripple with excitement rather than the political tension I had feared would be prevalent.
The stands were full of interns like us, pages, politicians and House office staff. The stadium boomed as everyone stood up to sing “Take Me Out to The Ball Game” and cheered during the presidential mascot race.
The Democrats scored the first run—significant because this was the first time the game had been held at the new National’s stadium. The Republicans also scored their first run in the first inning as well. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity after that…a few runs were scored, but for the most part the game was neck and neck until the fifth inning. Then one of the Congressmen on the Democrats team hit a homerun, with the bases loaded, that put them up four runs.
Ashley, Kate and Amanda got to the game just after the fifth inning and together the seven of us cheered for our respective teams, laughing and joking the entire time as we saw congressmen dive through the dirt in an attempt to get someone out.
The evening was warm but was surprisingly un-humid for D.C. The voices of the announcers rang though the stands as the two congressmen chosen for that position bickered over the performance of their respective teams—one announcer was a Democrat, the other a Republican.
As the announcers picked at each other through the game, pausing periodically to announce the arrival of an important political figure head like Nancy Pelosi, the game continued. Republicans from Florida battled Democrats from Connecticut. Lauren works for a Congressman from New York, and we got to see her congressman play against the Republican from New Mexico.
At 11:15, during the last inning of the game with two strikes on the board and two bases loaded, the Republicans hit a homerun—scoring three points, putting them one point ahead on the board. They won the game. The crowed cheered and booed in turn before we all flooded out of the stadium and headed home.