WASHINGTON, D.C. - For one night, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill set aside their political differences to participate in the 50th annual Congressional Baseball Game.
"This game is important because it's the one time a year that we get to gather and argue about things other than politics," Republican Connie Mack IV said. "It's one of my favorite nights of the year in D.C."
Mack is the great grandson of legendary professional baseball player, manager and owner Connie Mack. On Thursday evening, he played shortstop for the Republicans while wearing a vintage Philadelphia Athletics uniform.
"For me and my family, this feels like homecoming," Mack continued. "Baseball is in our blood. It's part of our tradition. For our country, it reminds us that in good times and in bad, baseball has always been there. It feeds a part of our soul."
Mack's words are true for the dozens of Congressmen who participated in the game. A mile removed from the stuffy suits and Halls of Congress, they turned into children again, if for just a few hours. Some took warm-up laps around the warning track. Others played catch with their children. Some even took infield grounders.
In the end, manager Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania led the Democrats to an 8-2 victory over the Republicans. The Democrats got on the board early, amassing a six-run lead over the first two innings. But ultimately, pitching led them to the victory.
The star pitcher and Democratic MVP was rookie Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana. Richmond played baseball at Morehouse College, not all that many years ago. On Thursday evening, he pitched a complete game, one hitter over the Republicans.
"Everywhere I walked in the Capitol, people said, 'Cedric we're depending on you,'" he said. "Fortunately, for six innings I pitched really good and then I squeaked my way through the last inning."
Richmond indeed pitched well. He struck out 13 batters and carried a no hitter into the sixth inning. Republican Steve Pearce of New Mexico drove a 0-2 fastball in the zone to deep left field to end the no-hit bid.
"I don't even know what I was thinking," Richmond said. "I got exactly what I deserved."
A crowd of nearly 8,000 watched Richmond's stunning performance. All proceeds from the event benefited the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
"I just can't say enough about the Nationals," Richmond added. "For them to give us their ballpark in the second half of the season when they are competing, it just means a lot. They are a great organization with great ownership and as you can see, a great facility."
The Congressional Baseball Game dates back to 1909, though early games were sporadic. After a brief hiatus between 1957 and 1962, the game became an annual tradition. Games have been played at Griffith Stadium, RFK Stadium, Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and at Nationals Park.