Rep. Adam Smith said his baseball career ended as a kid because he was too hard on himself — a condition the Washington Democrat chalked up to the mental issues of a child who simply took the game too seriously.
But he got a second chance at baseball when he came to Congress in 1997. Now in his ninth term, Smith is a veteran of the CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, playing in 16 of the past 17 games. The one game he missed, he quickly explained, was just after the birth of one of his two children.
Since his days playing youth ball, Smith, a Seattle Mariners fan who grew up cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals, seems to have worked out the kinks in his mental game. He has played mostly in the infield and has hits in all but one game — a stat that isn’t lost on his staff, who proudly lug their weather-protected “Adam Bomb” sign to the ballpark every year.
“Mr. Smith is an all-star — a lock-down infielder and a slugger at the plate,” spokesman Michael Amato said. “Also, he’s got the best cheering section.”
Smith, who modestly calls himself a solid hitter, said he doesn’t practice too much these days. His goal this year is simple: not to throw out his arm or otherwise hurt himself in the run-up to the game.
Highlights of past congressional baseball games include being named the Democrats’ most valuable player in 2001. Despite a crushing 9-1 loss, Smith went 2-2 at the plate and made several good plays at shortstop. A decade later, he showed he was still an offensive powerhouse, going 3-3 and driving in a run in an 8-2 win for the Democratic team.
When asked what brings him back to the congressional game year after year, Smith gave a short and simple answer: Mike Doyle.
The Pennsylvania congressman, who is the manager of the Democratic team, is apparently quite persuasive when it comes to keeping his playing core intact.
Smith said there are some undeniable benefits to playing year after year, calling it a “bonding experience” for members who are often otherwise too busy to get to know each other outside the Capitol.
“The best thing about it is the camaraderie that develops,” he said.
The 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game is Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at Nationals Park. Tickets can be purchased at congressionalbaseball.org.