Every year, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington brings a group of children and teenagers to the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.
And every year, they can’t believe what they’re seeing as they watch Members of Congress play ball for charity.
“It’s a little funny,” said Timothy Phillips, the group’s director of sports, fitness and recreation. “The kids initially think, ‘Ah, they can’t play no baseball.’”
As the game progresses, the quick defensive plays and impressive at-bats win them over.
The Boys & Girls Clubs, along with the Washington Literacy Council, has partnered with the game for years, receiving thousands of dollars for programs that promote athleticism, teamwork and literacy. Last year, the game raised more than $134,000.
But no matter how much they receive, the money is put to good use, Phillips said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs first got involved with the game when the Metropolitan Police Clubhouses were combined with the group in 2003. Previously, the game had partnered with the clubhouses, which were under the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. That partnership carried over after the organizations merged.
Nowadays, the funds go to sports programs, specifically (and appropriately), the baseball program. Management buys equipment for the players, who often don’t have access to gloves, bats and helmets.
The Washington Literacy Council, which began in 1963 as an all-volunteer organization, uses the money to fund literacy programs for adults.
The organization’s partnership with the baseball game began in 1993 at the suggestion of Mike Erlandson, chief of staff for then-Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.). Erlandson tutored at the literacy council and was also the team manager for the Democrats at the time.
When the game rolls around every year, the council benefits not only from the charity aspect, but it garners some publicity as well, winning more volunteers and donors.
“We’re a tiny little organization, the grass roots of grass roots,” Executive Director Terry Algire said. “The Congressional Baseball Game helps make the community more aware of what we do.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.