Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the 48th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Stadium. This is truly one of our favorite things to do in DC during the summer.
I started attending the Congressional Baseball Game when I returned to DC in 2000 to work for a Member of Congress. The game is very much ingrained in Capitol Hill culture for both Members and staff. For Members, it’s a great way to get to know one’s colleagues in a more casual setting, get a little exercise, and raise money for charity. For staffers, it’s an opportunity to socialize with one’s colleagues and cheer for (and sometimes laugh at) their bosses.
This is a good old-fashion, 7-inning baseball game. The teams are established by party affiliation, so the Democrats play the Republicans. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Joe Barton (R-TX) manage their respective teams. And they’re serious about it. Both teams start practicing in March or April for the June game. The stakes are high – the coveted Roll Call trophy and a year’s worth of bragging rights.
Both teams roster players representing districts across the country. While the game is open to both House Members and Senators, most of the players come from the House side, and only a few women elect to try out for the teams each year. Although the younger Members are often sought after for their athleticism, there’s no age limit. This year, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), age 72, helped base coach his team to a victory. Players show their hometown pride by wearing a uniform from a team local to their Congressional district, state, or alma mater.
Even though tickets are only $10, the game typically raises over $100,000 for the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. The seating is open, so if you get there early, you can usually snag a seat along the first or third baseline, depending on which team you care to cheer for. In my opinion, it’s quite the bargain given the entertainment value.
This year was particularly exciting. It was a high scoring game, and the Democrats beat the Republicans for the first time since 2000. The final score was 15-10.
I’m not a baseball fan. I don’t follow the Nationals, and unless someone gives me a free ticket, I don’t go to the games. But I love the Congressional Baseball Game. I love that a handful of our elected leaders take time to do something most average employees are encouraged to do at their office picnic. I love watching a Subcommittee Chairman bang himself up sliding into a base or going after a fly ball. They strike out, and they get frustrated. They’re not debating policy; they’re just trying to get on base. Most of all, I love the fact that at the end of the game, they shake hands with each other, and tell their rivals it was a good game. If I could bottle up this camraderie and sprinkle it over the House Floor, I would.
If you happen to find yourself in town around the time of the game, you should definitely make it a point to attend. Just buy your tickets on the day of the game at the stadium. And I’m sure your Congressman’s Office would be happy to answer any questions you might have about it. And for area residents, I strongly encourage you to make it a point to go to next year’s game. You may see Congress in a whole new light. This isn’t just a baseball game. It’s the Congressional Baseball Game!
Mrs. MJ on Travel, Deandra Brooks, is the author of this post. Deandra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.