Congressional baseball game interrupted for first time in nearly 60 years

Organizers working with teams and Washington Nationals to reschedule

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., warms up during the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on June 26, 2019. The 2020 game has been postponed indefinitely.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., warms up during the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on June 26, 2019. The 2020 game has been postponed indefinitely. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Posted April 10, 2020 at 11:35am

For the first time since 1961, the “friendly” bipartisan summer congressional baseball game will be put on hold as the D.C. area remains in quarantine in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity will be “postponed until a session date in the early fall,” according to Congressional Baseball President Ryan Thompson. “We have a couple dates that we have discussed with the Nationals, and will make a final decision on when it will take place once there is more clarity,” Thompson said in a letter.

Organizers decided to postpone the summer classic at Nationals Park once this year’s scheduled date, June 10, fell within the parameters of stay-at-home orders recently issued by officials in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region.

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Congressional Baseball reached the decision after consulting with the Democratic and Republican teams and with the Washington Nationals. While parties have proposed some specific dates, organizers are waiting for Major League Baseball to reset its schedule before finalizing an exact date and making it public.

“While we are not giving up, we are postponing the game in the interest of the health and safety of everyone involved,” Thompson said.

The congressional baseball game, which dates back to 1909, routinely draws thousands of fans to Nationals Park. Proceeds from the game are distributed to local charities. This year, because of early sponsor donations, Congressional Baseball has “provided more than $60,000 in emergency grants to charities providing food, shelter, safety from domestic violence and other critical services throughout the pandemic,” according to Thompson.

The last time there was an interruption in the annual game was the period of 1959-61, when Speaker Sam Rayburn discontinued it because of concerns about injuries to members of Congress. In 1962, the game was revived when Roll Call sponsored the game and Speaker John McCormack agreed to bring it back.

Last year, Democrats topped Republicans 14-7 for the party’s eighth win in nine years, behind a complete game effort from MVP Cedric Richmond, a Democratic House member from Louisiana.

In the best-case scenario, it appears Republicans will have to wait until sometime this fall for the chance to avenge their loss.