It was the final inning of the softball game Monday night, and the Great Scotts were up against a big deficit.
But Sen. Scott Brown encouraged his team. “It’s not over ’til it’s over,” the Massachusetts Republican said. “Trust me.”
This time, though, Brown’s optimism didn’t end in a win.
The final result was a 23-12 win for the Greats, the team representing the office of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
But Brown was philosophical: “As long as everybody’s out here and having fun, we’re doing good,” he said.
Brown played the full game, pitching throughout. This was not the normal requisite performance by a Senator; Brown hustled around the base paths, sacrificing his body in the process. Nursing an Achilles’ tendon injured in an earlier triathlon, Brown visibly struggled while legging out hits.
As for the Greats, the team was not intimidated by Brown’s presence on the mound. Before the game, team captain Brent Wiles said, “We got bets going to see who the first one is to take him yard.”
The bet was settled quickly. On Brown’s second pitch, leadoff hitter Thomas Carlisle blasted a ball to deep center field, flying over the outfielders’ heads for a home run. Three batters later, another homer was served up, this time a three-run shot. Before the bottom of the first ended, the Tennessee delegation had taken a lead that it would never relinquish.
“I’m going to call my parents as soon as I get home,” Carlisle said after hitting a second home run later. “I’m going to tell them I hit two jacks off Scott Brown.”
The Great Scotts were not without highlights of their own. Seasoned veteran Larry Bageant had a productive night from the plate. Bageant, a holdover from the office of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), looked forward to playing for the Great Scotts after years on the Kennedy team. “It’s going to be fun,” Bageant said. “We have good camaraderie.”
Brown’s team also showed some prowess on the defensive side. Nat Hoopes, a legislative assistant to Brown, made a diving catch in shallow right center to rob a hit from the Greats. Brown also got in on the act, nabbing a slow roller up the first base line and whirling around to throw the runner out.
But the Greats simply made more defensive plays than their opponents. The right side of the infield was led by precise defense from second basewoman Rheana Scarborough. Catching pop-ups and snagging line drives, she set the tone for the defense.
Longtime Senate softball player Bill Tucker also had an impressive outing for the Greats. Tucker had pinpoint accuracy with the bat, roping line drives between the third baseman and the left fielder for most of the night. Eventually, Brown organized his defense to counter Tucker’s hitting.
“We didn’t expect it,” Greats captain Brett Logan said of Brown’s appearance. In fact, in terms of Members actually playing with the softball teams, he said, “I’ve heard about it, but never actually seen it.”
To the longtime Brown staffers, the Senator’s spirited play was no surprise. “He’s a competitive guy, a good athlete,” said Greg Casey, the Senator’s chief of staff who worked for Brown prior to coming to Washington. “For the staff to be able to play and see the Senator in a different light is a good thing for the new people in the office.”
In the end, both teams left the field looking happy. The Greats won their season opener with some fun stories to tell. The Great Scotts received a genuine pep talk from their boss, a rare feat from a politician fresh off a loss.
“For a lot of us, tonight was our first game in five years,” said Brown, who went 3-5 with 3 RBIs on the night. “We will get better.”
Check back in Around the Hill each Wednesday for more softball coverage.