There's no crying in congressional baseball. It's a rough-and-tumble game, which requires our legislative leaders to wake up for 6 a.m. practices at school yards, scout freshmen upon their arrival to D.C., and play past-their-prime in front of hundreds of onlookers.
Tonight's scheduled game at Nationals Park may be the first time in three years the Republicans stand a chance against the Democrats and their all-star pitcher, Cedric Richmond. That's because they have Ron DeSantis, a freshman and former captain of the Yale baseball team, who was hitting homers during practice like it was nothing.
"The annals of sports are filled with names conjoined by epic rivalries," writes Ben Terris in this week's National Journal, "Magic and Bird; Ali and Frazier; Palmer and Nicklaus. For the most obsessed members of the congressional baseball teams—of which there are plenty—that list, they hope, could include Richmond and DeSantis."
The stakes are high, and the game also has a history of injury, as Terris reports:
And it's not just the players' work that takes a backseat to baseball; it's their health as well. The first injury came two days before the first game in 1909, when Edward Vreeland broke his collarbone at practice, and recent examples abound. In 1994, Rep. Mike Oxley shattered his arm running into Sen. Sherrod Brown at first base; in 1996, Rep. Tim Holden collided mouth first with Rep. Bill Jefferson in foul territory, leaving tooth marks in his fellow Democrat's forehead and sending them both to the emergency room; and in 2008, Rep. Louie Gohmert tore his ACL and meniscus on a play at the plate.
Yup, you heard it here first: Congressional baseball is the most intense contest in the world of sport. Digging through the historical record, we've found some more reasons why:
Congressmen are easily roused to fisticuffs.
In 1926, in what appears to be an act of intimidation (or animal cruelty), the Republicans rode in on an elephant.
Oh, who is that sitting in the front row? It's just the leader of the Free World. No pressure, guys. Seriously.
The physical prowess, the roaring crowd.
The team pictures look NOTHING LIKE Little League portraits.
Smack talk abounds. From The New York Times' account of the 1913 game:
Remember that time Ron Paul hit a double?
And the cheerleaders ...