While Wamp clearly remembers some of his exploits in great detail, he’s quick to spread the credit among his teammates. “The main thing was that I was just part of a heck of an infield,” Wamp said, referencing former teammates ex-Rep. Kenny Hulshof of Missouri (first base), Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas (second) and ex-Rep. Charles W. “Chip” Pickering Jr. of Mississippi (third). “There’s no question that infield was one of the best to ever suit up in the Congressional Baseball Game.” Wamp said he believes Brady and Pickering should join the other two in the Hall of Fame. (Hulshof was inducted in 2009.)
“Zach was the centerpiece of my ‘million-dollar infield’ that won nine games in 10 years,” Oxley said. “They made history and all of them deserve the honor of induction into the Roll Call Baseball Hall of Fame.”
The Republicans went 11-2 during his 13 years on the team (capturing four coveted CQ Roll Call trophies), and, as Wamp points out, there was a lot of pressure on the infield defense during those years. Former Oklahoma Rep. Steve Largent and later Shimkus were the staff aces and induced a lot of ground balls. “We got a lot of action, and that was fun because I was able to turn a lot of double plays,” Wamp said.
While a fierce competitor on the field, Wamp and the opposition often found humor in the competition — at least after the fact:
• In 2000, Democratic pitcher Melvin Watt intentionally hit Wamp with one of his big, slow curveballs. Wamp admittedly made no effort to get out of the ball’s way, leading to a bit of a war of words and another pitch thrown at his head later in the game. Eventually, he and the North Carolinian both got over it and count each other as friends.
• “Every once in a while a senator would come out and grace us with his presence,” said Wamp, keying in on Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, whom he recalls being a left-handed drag-bunter. “I was really looking for it and he laid a perfect one down and I one-handed it and submarined it to Hulshof. Bang-bang.” Long after the game, Brown would see Wamp and jokingly say, “I hate you,” to which Wamp replied, “That was the highlight of all my infield plays.”
Those instances are among the many examples of the comity identified by Wamp, who now runs Chattanooga-based Zach Wamp Consulting, as the most important element of congressional baseball.
“There are few things in Congress that bring people together with such good will. The game is like the House gym and the prayer breakfast,” Wamp said. “It’s for a good cause — and we play in an unbelievable venue. You get a feeling like you’re an athlete again.”
Hall of Fame Past Inductees
The CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame was established in 1993, when seven veterans were inducted.
1993: John Tener, R-Pa.
The founder of congressional baseball, Tener played in the majors for four years and was president of the National League.
1993: Wilmer Mizell, R-N.C.
“Vinegar Bend” played 11 years in the majors and served in Congress from 1969 to 1975. After one year of pitching, Democrats insisted he play another position.