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A New Caucus Face-off?

Baca Hopes to Get CBC, CHC to Play Ball in New Game

Anybody for softball? That’s what Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) has been asking some of his House colleagues lately, in a bid to set up a softball showdown between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Everybody thinks it’s great idea,” Baca said last week, adding that he also wants the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to umpire. CAPAC doesn’t “have enough [members] to form a team,” Baca said.

He added, “Can you imagine [Rep.] Charlie Rangel [D-N.Y.] running the base pass?”

(A Rangel staffer said that in fact he could not imagine it. “Mr. Rangel doesn’t play baseball. Or softball,” said Emile Milne, the Congressman’s spokesman.)

Baca said a friendly softball game involving the three minority caucuses could help catalyze a closer working relationship. “The idea is to bring the coalitions closer together,” he said, characterizing current minority caucus relationships as “good,” but added they “can be a lot better.”

“Divided, we’re conquered. But as a unit we become strong as an iron and solid,” he said.

Baca, a former semi-pro baseball player in his youth, said the softball game would be fairly noncompetitive — unlike, for instance, the Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game between Congressional Democrats and Republicans.

“It’s not going to be that kind of competition,” he said.

Baca said he was partly inspired by the annual Congressional baseball tradition, in which he is a regular player. But softball has the advantage that anybody “can toss the ball, you don’t even need to throw it,” he said, adding, “[Rep.] Grace Napolitano [D-Calif.] says she used to pitch I say get her out there.”

Amanda Molk, Napolitano’s spokeswoman, said, “Oh, my.” She added, “I know that [Napolitano] does love baseball and softball. … I would imagine there’s probably interest there.” Napolitano, however, was in Africa last week and could not comment.

Doug Thornell, spokesman for the Congressional Black Caucus, said the CBC hasn’t yet received a formal invitation. “I don’t think the members would have a problem with playing [the CHC] in softball,” Thornell said, but added that until a formal invitation is extended, “it might be a little premature to comment on it.”

A CAPAC spokesman said a reporter’s phone call about the possible game was the first he had heard of it. “We’ll take a look at any invitation that we’re sent,” Cameron Johnson said, adding, “I can’t really comment on it. I just don’t know if that would be something that CAPAC would be interested in.”

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