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Baseball Caucus Members Are Bonding Off the Diamond

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
During the years Doyle, left, has been affiliated with the Congressional Baseball Game, he’s developed a tight bond with the GOP team manager, Barton. He hopes the Congressional Baseball Caucus can forge similar bonds.

Two members who called the shots during the 2013 Congressional Baseball Game hope the sportsmanship they witnessed in June at Nationals Park can seep into more relationships around Capitol Hill.

Republican coach Roger Williams of Texas and Democratic manager Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania are forming the first-ever Congressional Baseball Caucus “with the idea being to take the edge off the tension that we have every day” by talking sports, sharing baseball stories and maybe having “hot dogs and apple pie,” Williams said.

The freshman member of Congress, who played for three years in the Atlanta Braves’ farm system, pitched the idea to Doyle, currently serving his 10th term, after reflecting on how baseball lightened the mood of the body even in the midst of budget bickering and assorted scandals.

“Before, during and after the game here we were, both sides, talking and laughing and joking and high-fiving,” Williams told CQ Roll Call, which has sponsored the game since 1962. “You don’t see that on the House floor. We don’t see it in the press. We don’t see it in our districts. ... Many of my friends on the Democratic side, what brought us together is not politics, it’s baseball.”

Doyle agreed. The 23 Democrats and 38 Republicans on the roster for the 2013 Congressional Baseball Game “developed a little bit of a camaraderie through the game,” he said in a recent interview.

“It raises money for charity and it’s a fun, competitive thing that we do every year,” Doyle said. “From the standpoint of building personal relationships across the aisle ... any vehicle that helps us do that so that we can start actually doing things together instead of this gridlock we’re stuck in is attractive to me.”

Many members are on board with the idea, according to Williams. The group, approved by the House Administration Committee on Oct. 24, already has commitments from many of the members who were on the diamond in June and some of the players who compete in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

It’s no surprise that Williams has found a way to insert baseball into Congress. The sport has been a huge part of his life. Raised in Fort Worth, Texas, he played at Texas Christian University and pursued a professional career until an injury dashed that dream in 1974. He returned to TCU to coach the Horned Frogs for three years. The diamond where the team now plays carries his name.

Today he cheers for the Atlanta Braves, the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros.

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