House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot and seriously wounded at a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game in June, threw out the first pitch at Friday night’s Nationals-Cubs playoff game. U.S. Capitol police special agent David Bailey, one of the two officers wounded in the shooting at an Alexandria Little League field, caught Scalise’s pitch.
Using forearm crutches to walk out onto the field to a thunderous standing ovation, Scalise settled behind a walker a few feet in front of the mound and delivered a strike over the plate to Bailey. Congressional staffer Zack Barth and lobbyist Matt Mika — also among the injured — delivered the lineup card. The team promised only a special guest to throw out the pitch; multiple reports Friday indicated that it would be the injured Congressman.
Still convalescing, Scalise has re-emerged publicly in recent days, appearing on Capitol Hill last Thursday (when he walked onto the House floor with crutches) and sitting for interviews with The Post, Politico, “60 Minutes” and others.
He has talked this month of treating political opponents with decency and respect, but also has made it clear that he isn’t backing down from his political pursuits, such as repealing the Affordable Care Act and speaking out for gun rights. He is also scheduled to appear at next week’s Value Voters Summit, an event organized “to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government.” And those stances could make Friday night’s public reception — in a city that votes overwhelmingly Democratic — something less than unanimous.
After news broke that Scalise would have first-pitch honors, some Nats fans online quickly reacted with disappointment. “Bad choice,” one wrote on Twitter. “I will not cheer for him,” another wrote. “Go Cubs,” joked a third. “I’m physically sickened,” wrote a fourth. Eireann Dolan, the wife of Nats closer Sean Doolittle and a well-known baseball figure in her own right, wrote that she was unhappy with the decision, which she called “a bad look.”
Scalise, who turned 52 on Friday, was in “imminent risk of death” when he arrived at a local emergency room after the shooting, according to the trauma director at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. And he remained hospitalized during this year’s baseball game at Nationals Park, which turned into something of an homage to bipartisan friendship and bonding, with frequent references to Scalise.
He spent much of the past two months in an inpatient rehabilitation facility, and is spending at least three hours a week attempting to regain his mobility, he told The Post. He said doctors are confident he’ll be able to walk without crutches eventually, and he’s relying on crutches and a scooter in the meantime.
The Nationals stuck to baseball with their first-pitch honorees in last year’s playoffs. The task was performed by injured catcher Wilson Ramos, former first baseman Adam LaRoche, and former pitcher Livan Hernandez.
The Illinois man who fired on the Republican practice at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park had spent weeks casing the field, according to a report issued Friday by Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan L. Porter. James T. Hodgkinson, the gunman, fired more than 60 rounds from an assault rifle and more from a handgun during the nine-minute incident, according to the report.
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