U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) made his way to the dugout to play in the congressional bipartisan baseball game last Thursday, June 15. The game came one day after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) was shot by a gunman, along with four others, during a practice just outside of Washington D.C.
Suozzi said the experience was very unique.
“To be one of only 20 players, and a freshman, on the Democrats congressional baseball team was an awesome experience,” he said in a statement. “After the shootings last Wednesday, the game took on a more important meaning, and the experience was truly humbling. Since day one I have talked about bipartisan cooperation and civility. It’s a shame it took a tragedy, but now it’s a part of the national conversation.”
Suozzi said he and his teammates first learned of the shootings at the Republican practice in Arlington, Virginia, around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning while the Democrats were practicing at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
“After the initial shock, confirmation of the events and being instructed by police to shelter in place at the dugout, the entire Democratic team circled together and prayed for our Republican colleagues and the other victims,” he said.
Before Thursday night’s game, both teams kneeled at second base at Nationals Park, where Scalise was supposed to have played, in a show of bipartisan unity. Democrats and Republicans prayed for the victims and their families as well as to come together as one united Congress.
The game raised a record $1.5 million for charity and was attended by nearly 25,000 fans. This was the 80th game of a tradition dating back to 1909. Capitol Police officer David Bailey, who was injured in the attack, threw out the first pitch.
Suozzi said the show of unity was very important.
“I sincerely hope we use this unique opportunity to show the American people that we’re here to try and get things done — together as Americans,” he said.
Suozzi had a hard-hit line drive to the shortstop and a ground ball to the third baseman, leaving him 0 for 2.
“It was still a fantastic experience and I hope I get to play again next year,” he said.
The Democrats won the game 11-2, and following their victory gave this year’s trophy to the Republicans to place in Scalise’s office until he recovers.
“I will continue to pray for Steve, the injured officers and other victims, and for our country,” Suozzi said. “We have important work to do. The people are sick of politics and politicians, and we need to work together on these life and death issues and actually get things done — together.”