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As Showdown Looms, Congress Hits the Field

GOP Election Wins Translate to Field

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Rep. Joe Baca takes batting practice during the Democratic team practice.

Forget the debt ceiling for a minute. Theres another showdown looming in Washington.

On July 14, Members of Congress will put down their BlackBerrys and pick up Louisville Sluggers for the 50th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

The coveted Roll Call trophy is on the line this year. Democrats have won the past two games of the five-game series, and Democratic manager Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) is hoping his team will clinch the trophy with a win this year. But with 23 new players and a long list of returning Members, Republican manager Rep. Joe Barton (Texas) wont give up easily.

Money raised will benefit two local charities: the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

The rivals will once again take the field at Nationals Park.

Its an awesome feeling when youre out there. I think thats why I come back here again, Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif) said. How often do I get to play at a major league ball park? Thats the fantasy of every child, every individual. Doesnt matter what age, were still children.

Democrats Confident
Down six starters and with a shorter roster, Democrats still anticipate a third consecutive win at this years game.

The keys to their confidence: new recruits and team chemistry.

The team has holes to fill after losing a catcher, a first baseman, a second baseman, a shortstop, a center fielder and two designated hitters after last falls elections.

I was upset we lost anyone, for more than baseball reasons, Doyle said.

But he thinks he has the best athlete on the field in rookie freshman Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.), who played college baseball and might take over from Baca as starting pitcher.

If youve got a dominant pitcher, you can win, because this is one game a year this isnt what we do, Doyle said. A dominant pitcher can really change the game, and Cedric has the ability to do that.

Still, longtime team members know how different it is to pitch on a Major League Baseball field when youre used to a small dirt field.

Hes untested, this will be his first game and well be playing in a National League park, Doyle said, estimating 5,000 to 6,000 people would attend. Its not easy to stand up on that mound and throw strikes.

If Richmond falters, the Democrats have a backup in Baca. A seven-time MVP for the team, the 64-year-old has been the Democrats pitcher for the past two years. Theyve never lost with him and his custom, name-embroidered red, white and blue glove on the mound.

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