Heard on the Hill

New Faces on the Field for Congressional Baseball Game

Some veterans will be playing in the final game on June 14

Republican manager Rep. Joe L. Barton, R-Texas, right, talks with Democratic team manager Mike Doyle, D-Pa., before the 50th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in July 2011 (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

Both Democratic and Republican teams have new faces on their rosters for the Congressional Baseball Game on June 14, while a few familiar stalwarts are getting ready to say goodbye.

The Democrats, reigning champions after their 8-2 win last year, have just one new addition — Freshman California Rep. Jimmy Gomez, whose district includes Dodger Stadium.

Gomez, who loves to watch baseball, said being part of the team is a better way to make friends than serving on committees.

“Your relationships are built by the committees you’re on and the caucuses you belong to. So it’s difficult to build relationships with people you may not have that much in common with,” he said. “Yeah, you’re both Democrats but one’s from the Midwest, one’s from Pennsylvania, it’s different.”

It’s been a while since he played baseball.

“I hadn’t played fastball baseball since I blew out my elbow trying out for high school baseball in 10th grade, so that was back in the early ’90s,” he recalled. “My arm is a little weak. But my hitting is solid.”

He did play on a softball team while serving in the California Legislature, but he’s not sure what position he’ll play because of his weak arm.

“If they want to keep me in the game because I can hit, then they’ll probably put me in right field because that’s where a lot of hits don’t go to,” he laughed. “If they want to just put me in as a pinch hitter once in a while, I’m good with that too.”

[Doubleheader: Love and Barragán Balance Baseball and Softball]

Six Republicans are making their team debuts this year: Reps. Jodey C. Arrington of Texas, Ken Buck of Colorado, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Jason Lewis of Minnesota, Mia Love of Utah and Bruce Poliquin of Maine.

Like his fellow freshman Gomez, Arrington joined for the fellowship.

“I think it’s a great way to get to know other members. I’ve always enjoyed sports for the competition so I think it will be fun, and it’s for a great cause,” he said.

Arrington wanted to join the team last year but had a shoulder injury. He played baseball as a kid but had to start focusing on football as he got older. He was a walk-on on the Texas Tech football team.

“Growing up in a small town, you generally play all sports. I played up until Little League,” he said.

[GOP Baseball Team Returns to Scene of Last Year’s Shooting]

He could be on the pitcher’s mound if fellow Texan and GOP coach Roger Williams can prepare him.

“Coach Williams is trying to make a pitcher out of me. My thrower works well, but my aimer need a lot of work,” Arrington said. “However, with his professional training, I’m confident I’ll be ready to play whatever position he chooses.”

Love, who also plays in the Congressional Women’s Softball Game (to be held June 20), was recruited by her colleagues, including a certain North Carolina congressman.

Mark Walker, who is a really good friend of mine, will be pitching and we’re planning on him to bring in the victory,” she said.

Both teams will be losing members after this year. On the Democratic side, this is the last game for Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who is retiring after allegations of sexual harassment. Also not returning are Reps. Jared Polis and Tim Walz, who are running for governor of Colorado and Minnesota, respectively.

Among the Republicans, team manager Joe L. Barton of Texas is retiring after a sex scandal, and Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico is running for governor. 

Reps. Tom Rooney and Dennis A. Ross of Florida, Bill Shuster and Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania, and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona opted not to run for re-election this fall. 

Here are the full rosters:

Democrats

Rep. Pete Aguilar of California Rep. Nanette Barragán of California Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr. of Virginia Rep. Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania Rep. Tony Cárdenas of California Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado Rep. Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana Rep. Raul Ruiz of California Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio Rep. Linda T. Sánchez of California Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York Rep. Eric Swalwell of California Rep. Marc Veasey of Texas Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota

Republicans

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.