It had all the elements of a big-league game — except for the talent.
But when the Democrats took home their seventh consecutive victory this week with a 5-2 win in the 54th annual Congressional Baseball Game, the crowd at Nationals Park wasn’t there to see good baseball.
“It’s the same game,” said Rep. Roger Williams, the former TCU baseball star from Weatherford and the coach of the Republicans. “You gotta throw strikes, you gotta keep the ball in front of you. The only difference is that this game will be in slow motion.”
The Democrats were anchored by their star pitcher, Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who played baseball at Morehouse College. Despite undergoing shoulder surgery in November, Richmond pitched all seven innings.
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The Republicans outhit the Democrats in the Thursday night game and had a one-hitter going through the sixth inning, but in the end, like in all baseball games, mistakes killed them. After coming off a 15-6 pounding last year, Williams was encouraged by the outcome.
“I think the teams are even,” Williams said.
A few observations from Williams and the Republicans’ dugout:
The biggest surprise of the game was a guest appearance by President Barack Obama in the third inning. Both the fans and players were excited by the president’s arrival, so much so that the game had to be paused because too many players were watching the president.
When he came out of the dugout, the Republican fans started cheering “TPA” in reference to the trade act that Obama is trying to get through Congress. The Democrats’ fans went with a simpler “Four more years.”
The Republicans won when it came to team shirts. Between shirts that read “I enjoy capitalism” and Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s, R-La., fleur-de-lis sporting, blue-shirted cheering section, the GOP was well represented.
The best represented in the fan game was Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. He fielded requests for autographs and shook people’s hands after the game.
“Oh my God!” Silvia Sieker, an intern, shouted to Paul after he shook her hand. “I love you!”
Speaking of autographs, Williams signed a man’s neck before the game.
“How’d that feel?” Williams asked the man, whose forehead was already signed.
For manager Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, it was important to have Texans on his team.
“Texans have a little bit of swagger, a little bit of attitude,” Barton said. “And sometimes you need that in a baseball game.”
No matter the outcome, Williams said that he still feels special every time that he puts on a jersey. Instead of a TCU jersey, Williams wore an Atlanta Braves jersey to represent the organization he played with in the minor leagues.
“If you don’t get butterflies when you put your uniform on, you don’t get to be playing.”
Williams also said that he has a batting cage at his home in Texas and that he likes to get out and hit the ball.
“If it gets down to it and I look down the bench and there’s no one better than me,” Williams said, “I’m in.”
He didn’t end up hitting.
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