Wednesday morning, tragedy struck at an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field, when a lone gunman opened fired at Republican congressional members practicing for a charity baseball game. The gunman, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, was said to be distraught over President Trump’s election, sprayed the field with bullets. Four people were injured during the assault, including Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives.
Two members of Mr. Scalise’s Capitol Police security detail were wounded as they exchanged fire with the gunman, bravely fighting back and avoiding a massacre. One member of the police was wounded by gunfire, and another suffered other, minor injuries.
Wednesday evening, Congressman Scalise was announced to be in critical condition and facing more operations.
The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, which has been played for 108 years, will go on as scheduled at Nats Park Thursday night. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased on the Nats website. The first pitch is at 7:05 PM.
The shooting affected many who worked on Capitol Hill including RMNB reader Maria O., who has been a congressional staffer since 2015. Maria described the sadness of the day and also explained why it would be a great gesture to go to the game.
Photo: Maria O.
One night a year Congressional lawmakers move their partisan debates out of the Capitol and onto the baseball diamond. Since 1909, Republican and Democratic Members of Congress have faced off in the annual charity baseball game, and this thing is no throw-away contest. Teams have been hitting the practice field at 6:30am for months to prepare for tomorrow night’s match-up. Thousands of staffers and fans fill Nats Stadium each year to cheer on their bosses, many of whom played ball in their previous lives and are living out their childhood dreams in the MLB stadium. Amongst fans, competition for best wonky joke sign is almost as fierce as the game.
This morning, as this year’s Republican team finished up practice on a local Alexandria baseball field, a gunman opened fire and wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist, and two U.S. Capitol Police officers. These events have left us all rattled, especially as members of our community remain in critical condition in area hospitals.
For someone who comes to work in Congress every day, it can feel like we’re moving away from the laudable and honorable debate I know we’re capable of. But I feel a strong, timeless kinship to everyone who has walked our marble halls, from the interns on up to the Speaker of the House. I won’t say that party doesn’t matter, because party is how we define our beliefs and work towards shared goal. But days like today I certainly feel party less than I feel those ties to history, towards our connections to everyone who has come to Congress for centuries to do hard work in even harder circumstances.
I know one thing for certain: we’re never going to solve this by turning in on ourselves and growing fearful of our neighbors. If lawmakers are threatened and become wary of going out into our communities, from grocery stores to baseball fields, that only serves to pull us apart from those we’re here to serve.
So, Members of Congress are not going to become afraid. Thursday night night they’re going to play some baseball.
I’m not betting on Nats vs. O’s level of skill, but there will be twice as much heart. Plus, Rep. Cedric Richmond has an 80-mile-an-hour fastball, so they’ve got that going for them.
This year’s game supports three fantastic organizations near and dear to many Washingtonian hearts, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Literacy Center, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. For $10, you can come cheer along with our community and support the city we love.
The Hill has always been a contentious place, but we can still sit in the sun, have a beer, and watch some baseball. I’d love to see some of you all, from my other family, come out and support this year’s game.
One last thing: I’ve had the immense privilege to spend a lot of time with members of the U.S. Capitol Police’s Dignitary Protection Division, several of whom saved lives this morning in Alexandria and were injured in the process. They are the best people I know on the Hill—at once hilarious and tough, practical and kind. A few of them have kept me going on some terrible days. The Capitol Police are damn good at their jobs.
Capitol Hill Officer David Bailey, who was reportedly shot, returned fire, and then still checked on Scalise pic.twitter.com/gvsSbXkIGm
— Mat (@sunnyright) June 14, 2017
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