Joseph Crowley Savors Diamond Memories From Congressional Baseball Games
Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle — or “Coach Doyle,” as he’s deferentially called by colleagues — doesn’t want to see anybody get hurt at the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game .
That’s a good thing for a team of amateur athletes with an average age far past that of a professional ballplayer in his prime, and perhaps especially good for Rep. Joseph Crowley.
“I’ve been hurt twice in the last three seasons,” the New York Democrat readily admitted. “I’ve been hurt at the game. Typically, it’s pulling a muscle.
“We’re so psyched,” Crowley explained. “The adrenaline’s pumping. You’re running from votes, you’re changing in the car, you’re running into the stadium. There’s no time to warm up, the game starts. You’re just, like, pumping. All those people there!”
He paused and smiled. “It’s a really, really cool thing.”
Crowley, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus when he’s not manning first base, played in his first Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game in 1999, as a freshman lawmaker. He’s seen a lot and has a humble idea of his place in the scheme of things. “The second year, I remember I was out in the outfield, and I didn’t have my cleats that morning, and I was shagging a fly ball,” he recalled. “The field was so wet and dewy, I just lost my feet completely. Bang! Right smack on my back. And I got up and I said, ‘Why am I doing this? I don’t know why I’m doing this.’”
Crowley uses the word “hate” for anyone who’s a standout player, and “jealous” for anyone who competes to play first base. The latter point has been the source of a rivalry between him and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.
But despite his somewhat imposing stature and gruff baritone, Crowley is quick with a laugh and his eyes twinkle when he’s talking trash — a sign he takes it all in stride.
Some of Crowley’s favorite memories? “I enjoyed watching the Weiner years,” said Crowley of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a fellow New York Democrat and Mets fan.
Crowley’s nicknamed the Democrats’ star pitcher, Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, “Franchise” and calls freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida, “Franchise 2.” Murphy, Crowley said, is “like a gazelle” on the field.
He says his favorite moment inside the diamond was in 2012, the same day the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.
“Folks made signs out in the field,” Crowley said. “‘Supreme Court 1, Republicans Nothing.’ Something like that.”
Was there ever a low-point in his congressional baseball career?
“Yeah,” Crowley said, trying to deadpan but ultimately bursting out laughing. “The day Steve Largent struck me out my only time at bat. I said, ‘I’m never gonna be here again!’ ”
The Oklahoma Republican who’s in two halls of fame — pro football’s and the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game’s — made him look silly. “I was there at the plate, and he threw a ball, and I fouled it off. And he threw another ball, and it was a ball. And he threw another ball, it was a strike, and I knew it was coming, and all I could do was look at it. And I watched it. It was a beautiful pitch, it was a curveball over the plate, and I remember thinking: ‘That guy is such a great athlete. I hate him.’
“But that was 15, 16 years ago,” Crowley shrugged. “Every year is a new beginning. I’m hoping to hit it out soon.”