A particularly meaningful “God Bless America” opened up the 56th annual Congressional Baseball Game as members of both the Republican and Democratic teams stood side-by-side — patriotically bipartisan — in center field.
Republicans had endured a tragedy on Wednesday, when a gunman opened fire at their practice. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot in the hip and remains in critical condition. Four others were wounded.
But Scalise’s teammates ran out to the field to cheers on Thursday evening. The announcer finished introducing the roster by saying Scalise’s name, which led to applause and the team throwing their hats into the air.
Spectators started a short chant of “USA” and many proud staffers walked around in USA tee shirts, as opposed to the usual shirts for specific members.
But others showed spirit for their boss, like the small mob of shirts for Democratic star pitcher Cedric L. Richmond — and a huge crowd holding signs for “Team Scalise.”
Capitol Police officer David Bailey, who was injured during the shooting on Wednesday, threw out the first pitch while baseball legend Joe Torre stood next to him.
Afterwards, players all lined up to hug Bailey.
During the game, there weren’t many partisan chants. But fans would cheer when their team scored a run.
The stadium was uncharacteristically filled with spectators as high as the club level of Nationals Park. The line to get into the stadium — mainly because of the heightened security — was longer than a regular season Nationals game.
When the Democratic team was announced, they ran out onto the field and placed themselves between the Republican members. The teams said the Pledge of Allegiance together. Earlier in the pre-game, both teams met in a huddle in center field to pray.
Meanwhile, White House officials Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump and secretaries Rick Perry and Elaine Chao — among others — all met with both dugouts before the play began.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer was spotted at the PNC Club private party, hosted by Anheuser-Busch.