LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Members of the U.S. Congress took a break from politics on Wednesday morning as they prepared for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity.
The event has been going on since 1909. This year's game will be on Thursday from National Park in Washington D.C. The game will take place exactly one year after the tragic events that surrounded last year's game.
On July 14, 2017 House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot while practicing for the game. He was critically wounded. James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois opened fire on the practice and after nearly 10 minutes of shooting he was wounded by an officer. Hodgkinson would die later that day. When the Republicans and Democrats met up for the game, the two teams met for a moment of prayer at second base where Scalise was set to play.
The mood at practice this year was very different. Members of congress laughed and smiled while being watched over by Capitol Police. Everyone cheered when Scalise took a grounder at second and fired it to first base. Right behind him was a joyful Kevin Brady. Brady represents the 8th District of Texas which includes Trinity and Houston Counties in East Texas.
"This shooter failed in a lot of ways," Brady said. "Not only did congress, Republicans and Democrats, rally around our fallen comrades but after that shooting this game has gotten bigger and better. As a result of it you are going to see Republicans and Democrats come together again in prayer tomorrow night."
The game will feature Scalise starting at second base with Brady coming in off the bench to relieve his friend.
"It has been amazing to watch how hard this last year has been in his recovery and rehab," Brady said.
The game raises money for multiple charities and has been a fixture since the early 1900s. It is a friendly game but it can get physical. In 2003, Brady rounded third and was looking to be the first run of the game. Democrat Tim Holden was the catcher and a classic collision at the plate ensued. Brady would be taken to the hospital with a broken and dislocated shoulder. Despite how physical it can get, the game does bring two parties together that do not agree on much.
"I have made close friends among Democrats on that team because of our love for baseball," Brady said.
The game is not a hobby to Brady. Brady has grown up around the game.
"In Texas we know how to play baseball," Brady said. "Baseball is the greatest sport, period. I have played it since I was a little kid. I have played it through high school and college. It was so exciting to see the Astros win the right way and to see these little league kids and their coaches and their families. The whole communities get behind Little League. Texas is a great state for baseball. I know football gets a lot of attention but you will often see the same kind of athletes."
First pitch for the annual game will be at 6:05 pm Central Time.