WASHINGTON — Republicans and Democrats put aside the sectarian hostilities that have increasingly defined this town and came together on the baseball diamond Thursday, a year after bullets from a would-be mass assassin shook Congress to its core.
Democrats prevailed 21-5 in the 57th Congressional Baseball Game for Charity at Nationals Park. But the night belonged to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and all who hailed his return after he was shot during a team practice last spring in suburban Virginia. The Louisiana Republican suffered life threatening injuries and has endured lengthy hospitalizations, multiple surgeries and painful rehabilitation.
Months removed from struggling to walk, Scalise was honored before the game and started at second base for Republicans, fielding a ground ball and completing the put-out to first on the game’s first play.
Sweet moment as Rep. Steve Scalise is mobbed by his teammates after snagging a grounder on the first pitch of tonight’s congressional baseball game.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 14, 2018
“It’s been a long road to this day,” Scalise wrote on Twitter earlier in a day filled with media interviews, accolades and a Capitol Hill blood drive to commemorate the donations he received a year ago.
Scalise wore a Capitol Police cap to honor officers who worked the shooting last year, injuring gunman James Hodgkinson, who later died.
Hodgkinson’s social media posts prior to the shooting suggest he targeted the Republican baseball team because of his political views. Giving no mention to Hodgkinson, Scalise pronounced himself “grateful for the support and prayers” Thursday and added, “Let’s play some baseball.”
On the field, any victory Scalise celebrated had to come vicariously through his long friendship with fellow Louisiana congressman Cedric Richmond. The former collegiate baseball player again starred on the mound and at the plate for the Democratic team, including a three-run, inside-the-park home run.
The baseball matchup, first played in 1909, typically raises hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for Washington-area charities. Last year, the game raised $1.5 million.