One day after a shooting at Eugene Simpson Field in Del Ray that injured Rep. Steve Scalise and four others, a record crowd watched at Nationals Park in Washington as nearly 60 members of Congress gathered to show the world, per President Donald Trump’s video message, that “the game will go on.”
Trump once more praised Capitol police, as well as Alexandria first responders, for their actions following the shooting, which rocked the quiet ball field next to the YMCA on East Monroe Avenue early Wednesday morning.
“By playing tonight, you are showing the world that we will not be intimidated by threats, acts of violence or assaults on our democracies,” Trump said in a recording shown shortly after the ceremonial first pitch. “I know you will all be playing extra-hard tonight for Steve.”
Scalise (R-La.) remained in critical condition at MedStar Washington Hospital Center as tributes to him poured in from the stands and on the field during the 2017 Congressional Baseball Game for Charity.
On Wednesday afternoon, Scalise’s surgeon, Dr. Jack Sava, told reporters the congressman’s internal bleeding was controlled and his vitals had stabilized, according to Politico. Further surgery to “manage abdominal injuries and bone injuries” will be required, Sava said, and Scalise remains in critical condition, Politico reported.
Some of the nearly 25,000 attendees Thursday night held “Scalise Strong” posters and signs reading “Geaux Scalise,” borrowing the Louisiana State University tradition.
Multiple congressional leaders in attendance, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sported LSU gear, as did Republican left fielder Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and others. Traditionally, players wear the uniforms of their local professional or college team.
The crowd chanted “USA! USA!” before lawmakers from both teams gathered to pray near second base, the field position where usual-shortstop Scalise was shot.
The environment was one of strength and support, solemn during moments of prayer, reflection and silence but united in a commitment to the victims, the country and the national pastime.
Legendary former New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre delivered the game ball from an Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale to Special Agent David Bailey, a Capitol police officer injured by shrapnel during the firefight between Capitol police and shooter James T. Hogkinson, who later died in custody.
Bailey, on crutches, threw a one-bounce first pitch to Roberto Clemente Jr. before Trump’s video address.
“In Washington, we have our disagreements, but we all agree that we are here to serve this nation we love and the people who call it home,” Trump said. “I leave you with three great American words that for generations have torn down barriers, built bridges of unity and defied those who have sought to pull us apart: Ladies and gentlemen, Let’s play ball!”
Ryan and Pelosi, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered an in-person “Play Ball” shortly after.
Following a top of the first in which the GOP jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, the Democrats quickly answered, taking a 3-2 advantage through a scoreless second before piling on four more runs in the fourth.