In a rare lapse of security, the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last night whipped the CIA 4 to 1 in a five-inning softball game despite the CIA's home field advantage at a grassy lot outside St Luke's Church in McLean.
The Senate softballers triumphed in the face of pitched water balloons in the last inning and CIA-supplied directions to the wrong field.
"We think they tried to jinx us," said Senate team member Diane Branagan. "They gave us a map and we were all sitting at the other St. Luke's up the road asking. 'Where's the field?'"
But CIA staffer Gary Chase, whose brilliant double play in the fourth inning excited his teammates so much that they almost dropped their beer bottles, said after the game, "This is a moral victory for us. We've never been out before playing. And this team has been practicing. But we kept the score close."
The Senate committee staffers, who experienced a crushing blow this season in their recent loss to the FBI, were typically skeptical of what this win means.
"I think the CIA deliberately blew the game," said team captain Tom Crowley, who also thought the FBI had infiltrated the Intelligence Committee with recruits who threw the last game to the FBI. "The CIA wants some special legislation through the Senate."
It was just another in a series of softball games being played nightly througout the metropolitan area by teams from congressional staffs, committee staffs, and government agency staffs.
Softball has become a rite of spring on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies as staffers itchy with winter office "cabin fever" hit the playing fields. There are leagues and even play-offs. And although some teams take it seriously, rejecting longtime office members for lack of talent and promoting summer interns to star positions, the Intelligence Committee, which oversees all government intelligence agencies, and the CIA were out for nothing more than fun.
"Tom makes sure we all get to play" said one member of the Intelligence Committee's team, "whether we want to or not."
Both teams were well-stocked with equipment. The Intelligence Committee brought Miller beer. They wore yellow T-shirts bearing the team name: (Deleted). "Well, it describes our work," said captain Crowley, a 31-year-old lawyer and veteran softballer who once led the public defenders' office team in Honolulu.
The Senate committee team, however, refused to divulge the meaning of the Q-007 printed ont he fronts of their shirts. "I can't talk about anything on this shirt." said committee staffer Martha Talley, "really. It's all classified." Capt. Crowley had also refused several days earlier to comment on whether or not he knew the name of the CIA's team captain, claiming security reasons.
But the CIA outdid them. Team captain Fred "Ayatollah" Hitz, the 39-year-old head of the CIA's Office of Legislative Counsel, arrived with a cooler of Stroh's and a T-shirt bearing his title. The team's red T-shirts proclaimed their team name: "The Rogue Elephant." (Sen. Frank Church's former committee on intelligence agencies likened the CIA to a rogue elephant")
The team was also outfitted with bright red terrycloth visors with the letters CIA embossed. (They had them specially made at a Tyson's Corner store.)
Hitz, no stranger to softball, played for the Energy Department in previous seasons, and showed fine form, swigging beer at the pre-game conference.
The CIA team, although better equipped with clothing and cheering fans, was less prepared for the game.
After two embarassing strikes, Mark Cowan, a 29-year-old CIA lawyer, fortified himself with several sips of beer and hit a slow, high fly ball that was easily caught.
He walked away, shaking his head. "And I have to blow up a bridge tomorrow," he said, then quickly added, "JOKING, JOKING."
Cowan also distinguished himself as scorekeeper, when he looked up from a conversation after the second inning, and said, "Did we get any runs?"
"Did I?" asked teammate Gordon Thorpe.
"No, did WE - the TEAM," said Cowan. (The answer was no.)
Midway through the game, a grim Chuck Peters, head of the Congressional Support Office for the CIA showed up in suit and tie. "They need a little practice, don't they?" he said calmly.
"I understand the other team has brought in a lot of players who don't have the proper security clearances. We intend to investigate that."
The Intelligence Committee team denied it. "They have a KGB man on their team," shot back Intelligence staffer Mike Epstein.
Even CIA's Carol Ryba, who hit well in the second inning and easily made it to second base, could not save the CIA team.
At the end of five innings the CIA demanded another inning.
"Let's give 'em a break," said Intelligence staffer Alan Spence.
"Give them a break?" cried teammate Keith Raffel. "When have they ever given us a break?"
Nonetheless, a sixth free-for-all inning resulted, with few, if any, people keeping score. With the game over, the two teams conferred in midfield on where to go for pizza and once again the CIA claimed the home advantage. They stayed in McLean. CAPTION: Picture, A masked Mike Epstein of the Senate Select team, by Fred Sweets