History of the 108-year-old Congressional Baseball Game linked to Va. shooting

The game has been a tradition since 1909 and a symbol of bipartisanship.

The annual Congressional Baseball Game (Republicans vs. Democrats) is scheduled for Thursday evening at Nationals Park with the first pitch thrown shortly after 7 p.m. ET, a day after an attack on some of the players at a Virginia park this morning.

The Boston Daily Globe described the inaugural game in 1909 as "brewing for weeks,” according to the History, Art & Archives for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Democrats won that first game, as well as the next five. The Republicans wouldn't clinch a win until 1916. By 1928, the game had grown so popular that it began to be broadcast over the radio.

But not everyone was a fan of the new tradition.

In 1914, Speaker James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark, D-Mo., complained that the game was interfering with Congress' work. An Appropriations bill on Civil War cotton damage was set to be debated on the House floor but, because of the baseball game, there wasn't a quorum, or enough members present for legislative work to be conducted.

The speaker sent the Sergeant at Arms to the field to gather the members but rain had already canceled the game, sending the congressman back to the Hill. According to the historical records, "the House eventually achieved a quorum, but adjourned without making progress on the bill because Members remained preoccupied with their unfinished work on the baseball diamond."

In 1958, Speaker Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, argued the game had become too physical and should be abandoned. But, four years later, Speaker John McCormack, D-Mass., resurrected the game with the support of Roll Call, a political newspaper founded years earlier.

Occasionally, U.S. presidents have attended the game, including Barack Obama, who watched the 2015 game from the sidelines.

Now, in its 108th year, the game continues to be a favorite event for Congress members and a place where Republicans and Democrats come together.

General admission tickets for Thursday's game can be purchased here for $10.

The organizations that benefit include the Washington Literacy Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. In light of Wednesday's shooting, it was announced that this year's game will also raise money for the Fallen Officers Fund.

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