Play Ball! Congressional Baseball Game Goes On in Defiance of Shooting

Charity event that sold more than 25,000 tickets and raised more than $1 million aired live on some news networks

In a rare moment of unity, congressional Republicans and Democrats took to the field for their annual charity game at Nationals Park Thursday, just 36 hours after a shooting rampage which left one of their colleague fighting for his life.

Members of both parties projected a sense of camaraderie, following Wednesday’s tragic shooting that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, fighting for his life.

The Congressional Baseball Game, usually a lighthearted charity that draws 10,000 spectators, had sold more than 25,000 tickets and raised more than $1 million for charity, according to organizers.

The event took on a decidedly more serious tone, with players from both teams kneeling together in a moment of prayer before hitting the diamond. Two of the three major news channels, CNN and Fox, carried the charity game live, with CNN’s Erin Burnett anchoring her show from the stadium.

In an impromptu moment, the Congressional Chorus, which sang the national anthem, was joined by everyone in the crowd.

The sense of unity was evident even in CNN’s graphics, which proudly teased: “Coming Up: Reps. Ryan and Pelosi First Joint Interview Ever.”

“We’re all praying for him,”  House Speaker Paul Ryan said during the interview right before the game, adding that Scalise’s wife “Jennifer and the kids are here.”

“He’s being missed,” he added. “We’re all praying for Steve.”

“Tonight we’re all team Scalise,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

The two sat side by side, wearing Louisiana State University’s purple colored gear in honor of Scalise’s alma mater.

The first pitch was thrown by one of the two heroes of the shooting, member of the Capitol Police David Bailey, who along with colleague Crystal Griner are credited with taking down the gunman.

President Trump did not attend because, according to the White House, there wasn’t enough time for the Secret Service to secure the area. First Daughter Ivanka Trump did make it, however, along with other members of the Trump administration.

“By playing tonight you are showing the world that we will not be immidatefd by threats, acts of violence, or assaults on our democracy,” Trump said in a statement. “The game will go on.”

The congressional baseball tradition dates back to 1909. The event was always intended to get Democrats and Republicans on the hill to put their partisan squabbles aside for a fun game of baseball.

“We’re proud of our differences of opinion,” Pelosi said right before the game began. “But we have a responsibility to find common ground.”