Despite a rough start when Abby Livingston of the Texas Tribune hurt her knee in the first inning, the press managed to pull off a 2-1 victory at last night’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game to continue their winning streak.
This was the ninth year of the annual charity fundraiser, which pits a 23-member press team, aka the Bad News Babes, against a bipartisan congressional team made up of three senators and 11 House members. Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Mikayla Bouchard of the New York Times acted as captains for the Babes, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) captained the Congressional team.
“I think the press enjoyed winning ’cause they’ve decided they’ve gotten beaten up enough this year by various people,” joked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who’s been an announcer since the game’s inception in 2009. “This is not a time for partisan politics, but there was a comment that maybe they deserved to win.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan helped promote unity between the media and legislators by joining the Babes in their dugout for some pre-game greetings and photo ops. Camaraderie was high between the opposing teams as well, evident when Gillibrand apologized to the press team catcher for stepping on her foot while coming into home base.
There was no denying the impact the recent shooting at a practice for the Men’s Congressional Baseball Game had on this year’s event, for better and for worse. New records were set for crowd size and proceeds (over $292,000 was raised for the Young Survival Coalition, a charity that supports young women diagnosed with breast cancer).
“The support from the community we saw, the fact that 2,000 people came, that was because people knew this is important that we are together,” Gillibrand said. The Congressional team players’ colleagues, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway, turned out to show their support.
Special Agent Crystal Griner of the U.S. Capitol Police, who was shot in the ankle while defending members of Congress at the June 14 shooting in Alexandria, Va., threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches, which Gillibrand referred to as “very inspiring.” Griner, who tossed the pitch from her wheelchair, was allowed to leave the hospital for the occasion.
Security presence at Watkins Elementary School was much heavier than in years past, and the overall mood was lighthearted and fun, yet some degree of caution was inevitable. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) admitted the shooting left her a bit rattled. “I’m not going to lie — it’s scary,” she said. “I get more nervous about people that are walking back and forth behind me.”
Love said the feeling of vulnerability the shooting caused wasn’t enough to deter her from participating, however. “It would be easy to just hide in a corner and say ‘We’re not going to do this,’ but this is beyond us. But we’re not doing it for ourselves, we’re doing it for our districts and for our country, and in this case, we’re doing it for women who are suffering from breast cancer.”