Former Skins QB Sends One Over the Fence in Denver

Former Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler, back in the day.
Former Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler, back in the day. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, August 28, 2008

DENVER Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), the highly paid but ill-fated former Redskins quarterback, may have redeemed himself a bit with Washington fans who wanted him permanently run out of town. Shuler, who flopped at RFK in 1994 and 1995 but returned to the District in 2007 as a congressman, hit a home run Tuesday at Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play.

Lobbyists and others in the stands at the "Day at Coors Field" sponsored by Microsoft and Eli Lilly were shocked when Shuler went yard with a shot over the left field fence. "I never thought I'd see that!" said one Washington lobbyist (and committed Skins fan).

Coors Field's elevation makes it a notoriously hitter-friendly park, even for success-challenged former NFL quarterbacks.

Shuler acknowledged as much. "With the air this thin and light, we need to start playing the congressional baseball game out there," the congressman joked.

Shuler was among a handful of members of Congress -- including Reps. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) -- lobbyists and others who participated. The pitchers for the event were minor league players recruited by the event's sponsors.

Shuler has a connection to Coors Field: Todd Helton, the all-star first baseman for the Rockies, was his backup at the University of Tennessee.

Asked whether the slugging Shuler now wishes he had played professional baseball instead of football, Shuler spokesman Andrew Whalen said, "No, his first love was football."

Mets Not Playing Ball

Speaking of ballparks, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared yesterday that he is no fan of the corporatization of professional sports stadiums. Schumer, a Brooklyn native, said at a news conference touting Democratic candidates in this fall's election that he had been pushing the New York Mets to name their new stadium in Queens after former Brooklyn Dodger standout Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947.

"But they don't pay," Schumer said of Robinson's family. "So it's going to be Citi Stadium," he added derisively.

For those keeping score at home, Schumer doesn't want Citigroup paying for naming rights to the new stadium, which is reportedly costing the financial giant $400 million over 20 years. He'd no doubt prefer the money go toward donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which he chairs. So far this election cycle, Citigroup has given $15,000 to Schumer's DSCC.

Obscure Bands Rock

The group hosting the New Democrat Coalition party Tuesday had the right idea when it featured a band no one has ever heard of. That way, all House members and staff were able to attend free.

The House ethics committee came down hard on the New Democrat Coalition's rival conservative group, the Blue Dog Coalition, which made the grave mistake of wooing a headline entertainer for its late-night bash on Monday night.

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