As one of the members present during the shooting at the Republicans’ congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann had a lot of reasons to be emotional. But it was not the shooting that brought tears to his eyes that afternoon.
Fleischmann teared up when asked about the uniform he planned to wear to the 56th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, which is still taking place Thursday evening at Nationals Park despite Wednesday’s shooting.
Members typically wear uniforms of their hometown or state’s team. Fleischmann said he plans to wear a Chattanooga State Community College jersey but he has decided to forgo his typical University of Tennessee hat.
Instead, Flesichmann plans to wear a hat representing Howard High School in Chattanooga, per a promise he made to the students there.
“They didn’t have a baseball team for 40 years,” he said, noting that they brought baseball to the school this year. “The community came together and funded their field. The kids were working hard to build their baseball field.”
Fleischmann went out and practiced with the team, whom he called “great kids.”
Howard High School is a traditional African American high school, Fleischmann said.
“As you know, Major League Baseball has seen a decline in the participation of African American members,” he said. “I want to see that come back. I want to see baseball come back in the inner city. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of potential.”
Fleischmann said he’s impressed by how the community came together to help rebuild the Howard baseball program, as well as how the team conducted itself. “They played hard,” he said. He added that it would meet a lot to the students he met there for him to wear one of their hats.
“I promised them I would wear their hat tomorrow in the game,” he said. “So it would take a lot for me to give up my UT hat, but for those kids and that school — it’s really incredible.”