Dugout Dish: Love for the Game

Donnelly, Flake, Murphy and Brady share memories of learning to play baseball

Posted May 31, 2016 at 7:00am
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This year’s Congressional Baseball Game is scheduled for June 23 at Nationals Park. Between now and game time, CQ Roll Call talks to members of Congress about why they play, what they expect this year and some of their favorite stories from games past.

Democratic  Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, first baseman, and Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, catcher, are going for their 8th win in a row this year. And Republican  Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, centerfield, and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, second baseman, are working to break their team’s losing streak.  

The one thing they have it common is fond memories of playing the game as a kid.  

Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter takes batting practice as Rep. Joe Donnelly (now Indiana's junior senator) waits his turn during the Democrats' practice in 2008. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter takes batting practice as Rep. Joe Donnelly (now Indiana’s junior senator) waits his turn during the Democrats’ practice in 2008. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Joe Donnelly

“My love of baseball started with my dad, who would come home from work at seven at night, dog-eared tired. All he wanted to do was take a nap and eat dinner and I’d be standing there with my glove to play. And he loved baseball, he grew up playing ball and so he instilled it in me. And as my friend Kevin [Brady] would say, you know it’s the greatest game ever and it’s passed on from generation to generation and I would play every single night. And if he wasn’t there, I’d throw it against the wall and other neighbors thought I was crazy, which was probably right, but that’s OK.”  

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake with his wife and two sons after the game. (Courtesty Sen. Jeff Flake)
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake with his wife and two sons after the game. (Courtesty Sen. Jeff Flake)

Sen. Jeff Flake

“I grew up on a ranch in a small town — six brothers — so I had plenty of brothers to throw the ball with. But, baseball for me was mostly getting away from the ranch and farm duties. I didn’t have to milk a cow if I was at baseball practice. So I spent all the time I could at baseball for that.”  

Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy greets his children at the 2015 Congressional Baseball Game. (Courtesy Sen. Christopher S. Murphy)
Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy greets his children at the 2015 Congressional Baseball Game. (Courtesy Sen. Christopher S. Murphy)

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy

“I remember going to a Boston Red Sox game when I was five years old and [leftfielder] Jim Rice hit a home run and when I came back home, all I wanted to be was Jim Rice. And so, whether it was my dad or my friends down the street, I was out on that side yard in our back yard pretending that I was number 14 for the Boston Red Sox. It was really that experience that developed a love of baseball and I continued through Little League and to today.”  

Texas Rep. Kevin Brady greets teammates at the start of the Congressional Baseball Game in 2003. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
Texas Rep. Kevin Brady greets teammates at the start of the Congressional Baseball Game in 2003. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Kevin Brady

“Little League was really where it started. All my buddies and I from my neighborhood — we played ball anyway — but Little League was really when we started to get into it. And the ballpark was across town so we would ride our bikes as a group through all the streets to practice and then back home to the games as well. When you’re a kid playing Little League Baseball — especially when the clouds start to gather and all you’re doing that afternoon is praying that you’re still going to get to play the game. You know what I mean? It’s so disappointing if they canceled something like that.”  


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