Everyone knows that members of Congress can play hardball in legislative battles, but what about on the softball diamond?
In two weeks, the female members of Congress will be put to the test as they compete in the 11th annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game. Unlike the men’s game, the congressional women’s team is bipartisan and faces off against the “Bad News Babes,” a team comprised of members of the DC press corps. Proceeds from the game go to Young Survival Coalition, which offers resources and support to young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who founded the game in 2009—along with representatives Jo Ann Emerson, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Susan Collins—says that the bipartisan makeup of the team fosters unity in the battle against breast cancer. “We’re really one of the only bipartisan teams,” Wasserman Schultz says. “We made that decision right from the beginning because our common adversary is—both from the press and members side—cancer.”
The press team has been victorious for the past three years, winning last year’s game 5-0. This year, however, the congressional team believes it has a secret weapon: the freshman. The team has seven rookies this year, all of whom were sworn in as members of the 116th Congress in January.
“Debbie actually recruited me onto the team before I was even sworn in,” says Katie Hill, who represents California’s 25th district. “I played in a rec league twice, but she was like, ‘We need you!’”
Though the levels of experience vary across the team, the rookie class has some impressive credentials. At a recent practice, as fellow freshman representative Sharice Davids smacked a line drive downfield, Florida representative Donna Shalala joked that the rookies were scouted more for their prowess on the field than in the halls of Congress.
“Just like that! You don’t think we elected the freshman just to take the majority?” Shalala said, nodding toward Davids at the plate. “We checked them out, in terms of their skill levels, and got the D-triple-C to support them.”
Prior to entering the political arena, Davids competed on a different stage as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. The strength Davids brings to the batter’s box is a valuable addition and could prevent the team from being shut out again this year.
A spry 78-years-old Shalala was no slouch at the plate, either, getting in some quality at-bats during practice while donning a custom jersey with “Miami” and her name on it. This should not necessarily be a surprise as Shalala and her twin sister, Diane, played on a youth baseball team coached by the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Some rookies, like Pennsylvania’s Chrissy Houlahan, hope to bring the drive they demonstrated on the campaign trail to the field. “I would say, having run for congress for almost two years in a race I was told I was going to lose and standing here right now, it’s anybody’s game,” Houlahan said.
Representatives Angie Craig, Kim Schrier, and Debra Haaland will also take part in their first game this year. In addition to raising funds for an important cause, the game offers members of Congress a chance to build friendly relationships, both across the aisle and different levels of seniority. “It’s a politics-free zone and it fosters good friendships that help with our working foundation,” says Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a team captain and Republican out of West Virginia. “We really enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Plus, we can yell at each other and not take offense.”
Embracing the good-natured rivalry between Congress and the press on the field, the members team took the time to film a trash talking video at the end of one practice:
Another victory for the #BadNewsBabes this year? #TeamCongress calls #fakenews! Watch them battle it out on June 19! Buy tickets here: https://t.co/dZdGv4a5lG #CWSG #BeatCancer pic.twitter.com/RKkxeOPYuO
— CWSoftballGame (@CWSoftballGame) May 30, 2019
The Congressional Women’s Softball Game will be held at the Watkins Recreation Center on June 19. Tickets are available at https://cwsg2019tickets.eventbrite.com