Congressional Baseball Game for Charity has long history

The game pits Republicans against Democrats on the baseball diamond and has a long history in Washington.

HOUSTON - The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity will go on as scheduled Thursday night.

Members of Congress applauded the decision to play ball after a gunman opened fire during practice Wednesday morning, wounding House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, congressional aide Zack Barth of Houston, and several others.

Related: Suspect killed after Steve Scalise, 4 others shot at baseball practice

The gunman, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., fought a gun battle with police before he, too, was shot and later died.

A fun-filled practice field became a crime scene Wednesday morning.

“I just remember seeing gravel bounce up as shots were coming near us,” said Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Sen. Flake started playing when he joined Congress.

“I’ve been in Congress 16 years,” Flake said. “This is my 16th year doing this.”

The game pits Republicans against Democrats on the baseball diamond and has a long history in Washington.

A senator organized the first game in 1909. It was first broadcasted live on the radio in 1928.

The game was interrupted during the Great Depression and World War II.

Its current format, a best of five series, began in 1962. At one point, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas declared the game “too physical.”

But participation has grown increasingly popular in the years since. Congressman Joe Barton of Texas is this year’s Republican team manager.

“This is a charity baseball game,” Barton said. “We’ve played it for almost 100 years, and it’s for a very good cause.”

Barton and his two sons escaped injury during the shooting. He said, before the final decision was made, the game should go on.

“It’s what, in some ways, it’s what democracy is all about,” Barton said.

Find out more on the game, tap/click here.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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