The annual Congressional Baseball Game will go on as planned, Rep. Martha McSally announced in an all-member briefing after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others were shot by a deranged Bernie Sanders supporter while the Republican team was practicing Wednesday morning at a Virginia ball field.
"It will be play ball tomorrow night," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and manager of the GOP squad, confirmed later in the day.
Despite the cowardly armed sneak attack aimed at Republicans, it won’t stop the annual charity match-up from being played 7:05 p.m. on Thursday at Nationals Park, according to the game organizers from both parties.
During a solemn address to the chamber Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan injected a moment of levity – joking that the wounded Congressman's biggest complaint will be having to spend time on the disabled list.
“Knowing Steve Scalise as we all do, he is likely really frustrated that he’s not going to be able to play in the baseball game,” Ryan said of his friend — who is still listed as in critical condition.
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), manager of the Democrats, invited all players from both teams to dinner at Democratic headquarters on Wednesday night.
“We’re united not as Republicans and Democrats but as United States representatives,” said Barton during the joint appearance with his Democratic baseball rival Doyle.
The annual congressional baseball game dates back to 1909 and is considered a bi-partisan event open to everyone.
Every year Senate and House members of each party fortify friendships off the floor and on the field. Members usually wear the uniform of their home states and districts, and although proportional representation is not required, elected officials of many states play to bring home the victory trophy.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), who is on the Democrats’ baseball team said the Democratic team practices at a different facility than where the shooting occurred. Swalwell noted that they usually have security, but the Republicans likely had “even more” due to Scalise’s rank in the House Republican Leadership.
President Trump touted the "heroism" of Capitol Police officers, and said their presence prevented what would have been a "massacre."
There is expected to be an increased number of fans in the stands — and more security at the gates— this year as the game has now taken on national significance.
More importantly, the sportsmanship represents the hopes of an America that is striving for unity.