Without Baseball-Playing Lawmakers, A Washington Literacy Charity Might Have Shut Down

The Congressional Baseball Game is an annual bipartisan tradition with a huge impact.

On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where GOP lawmakers were practicing for the upcoming Congressional Baseball Game. At least five people were reportedly shot at the scene including Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip. The assailant was shot by Capitol Police and taken to a hospital, but died of his injuries Wednesday morning, according to President Donald Trump.

GOP House members were on the field participating in an early morning practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, an annual charity baseball game that's set to be played at Nationals Park on Thursday. The game is a tradition among lawmakers that dates back to 1909. 

"Every year, with a few interruptions, Senate and House members of each party team up to settle scores and solidify friendships off the floor and on the field," according to the game's website. "Members usually sport the uniform of their home states and districts, and although proportional representation is not required, elected officials of many states play to win every year." 



The Congressional Baseball Game is played annually to raise money for charities in the Washington, D.C. area including The Washington Literacy Center, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. All proceeds from ticket sales are gifted to these organizations. 

"The Washington Literacy struggles financially each day to continue providing literacy skills and programs to adults who need it most," Jimmie Williams, executive director at the Washington Literacy Center, told A Plus in an email of the center's mission. "The hard work of Congressman Steve Scalise, members of Congress, staff and the Congressional Sports Foundation makes it possible for small nonprofits like the Washington Literacy Center to continue providing opportunities by teaching basic reading, math, and workforce skills that move the adults who need it most toward self-sufficiency. Our prayers are with everyone impacted by this horrible event."

Williams told A Plus that he had attended a number of batting practices with Rep. Scalise and other members of Congress, and gave them high marks.

"They [put] in long hours practicing for a good cause," he said.

According to Williams, the funds raised by the game have gone directly to supporting educational necessities such as teachers, smart boards and books, as well as the classrooms themselves. Nonprofits that don't focus on kids, animals, or other popular causes, he said, are less likely to receive private donations, making the game's contribution "crucial" to the Washington Literacy Center's efforts.

Williams even ties the center's continued existence to the game's support.

"The Congressional Baseball Game has supported the Washington Literacy Center for more for almost 19 years through some of most of our difficult times," Williams told A Plus. "As a small local nonprofit that, there are years we don't know if we would have survived without them." 

Both Republican and Democrat lawmakers hold early morning practices leading up the game. Members of the Democratic team, who were practicing for the game separately from their Republican colleagues, began praying together after hearing the news about the shooting. Many politicians took to social media to voice their support and offer thoughts and prayers for the victims of the shooting.

In spite of this tragedy, GOP leaders have stated that tomorrow night's charity game will play as scheduled. Upon hearing this news, House members reportedly cheered. 

If you'd like to contribute to the game and the charities it supports, you can purchase tickets here to watch the lawmakers in action. You can also reach out directly to The Washington Literacy Center, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and make a donation. 

Cover image via Unsplash 

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