Come Together this Bloomsday

Representatives Cedric Richmond, the Louisiana Democrat (right—go figure), and Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican, play during the Republicans’ 8-7 victory in 2016.

The 2017 Congressional Baseball Game takes on uncharacteristic heroic dimensions among the Legislative Branch of government tonight.

Naturally enough, the US government itself and professional baseball at its highest level go way back to the institution of the reserve clause by the US Supreme Court in 1922. This gave owners an exemption from the 19th-century Sherman Antitrust Act. It was an Act of Collusion; players were indentured to their respective major-league teams. The beginning of the end, touched off by a teams’ trade in 1969, was the case of Curt Flood, rarely mentioned among players and figures who belong in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Congressional Game is about to be played, as I (Evander) cobble this blog, in Nationals Park. D.C. was the long-time home of the storied Washington Senators. You’ve heard it: first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.* Those Senators moved to Minnesota, and then there was a new Senators, a so-called expansion club, even worse than its namesake.

Everything the real senators and representatives, legislators all, might have learned about sportsmanship, in each phase of life, could have been picked up in Little League. (Another figure of politics, who knew a thing or two about unity, Helmut Kohl, died the same day. I hope this isn’t a bad sign.)

The ball-field match-up of Dems and GOP was devised 60 years “Before the Flood.” In the late 1950s House Speaker Sam Rayburn called a halt to the exhibition. (Maybe the cold war got to him.) Soon, the charitable Game resumed. One source says Republicans have won 42, the Democrats 39, with one declared a tie. Another source has the score 39 games to 39. Figures no one can agree. Depends on the source. Baseball, we all know, is never fake news.

It’s even Bloomsday.

* “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” These famous words about George Washington come from a eulogy written by Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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