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With Major League ballplayers in the midst of spring training, much of the baseball world is focused on exhibition games in Florida and Arizona. But baseball fever is spreading to Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans are starting to gear up for their own hardball season.

Reps. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.) and Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), who coach their respective teams, announced this week that the 42nd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game will be held Thursday, July 10, at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, Md.

“This year is the start of a new best-of-five series, and I’m looking forward to taking to the field and starting off with a win,” said Sabo, now in his 16th year as manager of the Democratic team.

Last year, Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.) replaced longtime teammate and former House colleague Steve Largent (Okla.) on the mound for the Republicans, leading the team to an easy 9-2 victory. The win gave Oxley his first coveted Roll Call trophy and Republicans their eighth overall (to the Democrats’ two). The trophy is awarded when a team wraps up the best-of-five series.

Oxley, who took the Financial Services Committee gavel for the 108th Congress, expects his team to feature some new players this year as the Republicans seek to extend their dominance.

“Mr. Oxley hopes he has a load of new talent,” said spokesman Tim Johnson. “When he interviewed Members who wanted to be put on the Financial Services Committee this year, they all claimed to have been baseball all-stars in their youth. We’re waiting to see if they were phenoms or well briefed by their staffs.”

The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. As in previous years, all funds raised will go to the Washington Literacy Council, the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Club and local charities selected by the game’s hosts, the Bowie Baysox. Last year’s contest raised about $90,000.

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