When Rep. Erik Paulsen finally found a place to live in Washington, his housemates made him agree to one extra stipulation: He had to play baseball.
“I had no choice,” the Minnesota Republican said jokingly.
Three years ago, Paulsen moved into a town house shared with Reps. John Shimkus (Ill.), Kevin Brady (Texas) and Steve Scalise (La.), all of whom play on the Republican Congressional baseball team.
“When I learned my three housemates are very engaged and very competitive and very good as a part of the team, I had to play,” Paulsen said. “I thought Shimkus was going to be pounding on my door every morning at 6 a.m., [yelling,] ‘Let’s go!’”
Shimkus bought the four-bedroom town house near L’Enfant Plaza nine years ago, and Brady has lived with him almost as long. They’ve shared the space with other Members, including former GOP Reps. Gresham Barrett (S.C.) and Mark Kennedy (Minn.) and Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.).
Shimkus and Brady — veteran starters, many-time MVPs and team co-captains for the Republicans — will play in their 15th game this year. And although Barrett also had several star moments on the diamond, not all of their roommates have played baseball. Paulsen’s decision to join the team three years ago marked the first time all four housemates were ballplayers.
It’s not easy to wake every roommate for 7 a.m. practice, according to Shimkus, who rises early and drives the shared car. He tries to get all four in the car by 6:30 a.m. to make sure they get to practice and then to the Hill on time.
“I’m in the bottom room, so I’ll hear them walking down the steps, and then they do the exaggerated Minnesota accents, ‘Come on, Gopher, let’s go,’” Paulsen said.
“You betcha,” Brady said.
Gopher is Paulsen’s nickname.
“It’s amazing. We’re always wondering, ‘Will the Gopher stick his head out the door when we’re coming down?’” Shimkus said.
Brady explained that Shimkus, who lives in the loft, is the impatient one.
“I’m on the floor below, and when I hear him whistling, I know I had better head downstairs because that means the garage door’s opening, the car’s cranking up and you better get downstairs,” Brady said.
Scalise, on the other hand, can go from dead asleep to fully dressed in about 45 seconds, Brady explained.
“I’ve never seen anyone get dressed — suit, tie and everything — and move from a dead stop like Steve can,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re doing down there in Louisiana.”
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.