Members of Congress set for annual baseball game a day after shooting

Members of Congress set for annual baseball game a day after shooting

One day after a gunman opened fire at a baseball practice for members of the Republican congressional delegation, the party's team will go forward with plans to play a squad of rival Democrats amid concerns over the intensity of the partisan fervor in the United States.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. remains in critical condition after he and three others were shot Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, as the GOP team prepared for the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

A congressional staffer, a lobbyist and a Capitol Police officer responding to the shooting were the others struck by James T. Hodgkinson -- a man with a history of criminal run-ins who had regularly expressed strident criticism of President Trump -- who reportedly asked a pair of congressmen whether the group on the field was comprised of Democrats or Republicans.

Hodgkinson was wounded in an exchange of fire with law enforcement and later died.

The Congressional Baseball Game traces its roots back 108 years to Rep. John Tener, R-Penn., a former major league ballplayer who founded the event. Since then, the game has grown in popularity and graduated to the diamond at Nationals Park in Southeast Washington where it serves as a fundraiser for various local charities.

Following Wednesday's shooting, a number of legislators spoke about what the game, billed on its website as "the only annual partisan event beloved by all," means to them and why it was important for the game to go forward.

"We're playing the game tomorrow," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the Republican team manager. "We're united, not as Republicans and Democrats, but as United States representatives."

"When the leadership of this country is civil towards one another, maybe the public will start being civil towards one another too," said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., the Democratic manager.

In 79 contests listed on the game's website, the parties share an even record of 39 wins, 39 losses and one tie, with Democrats benefiting from wins in seven straight games from 2009-2015. Republicans snapped the streak with a 8-7 victory in the 2016 contest with Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla. driving in the winning run in the game's final inning.

According to a spokesman for Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., the teams will honor Scalise Thursday night by wearing Louisiana State University baseball shirts, a tribute to the Whip's home state.