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Sánchez Returns to Field Full of Men

One vote from the other side of the aisle hardly makes a bill bipartisan. Similarly, one female player in a group of men hardly makes a baseball game coed.

Still, while men will again dominate the 49th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, the women of Congress can take solace in the fact that their most tenured player is back representing them on the field.

Rep. Linda Sánchez will resume playing in her signature No. IX jersey that she wears in honor of Title IX legislation, which she said “helped propel women’s sports.”

The California lawmaker had played every year since 2004, but she had to watch from the stands last year as her fellow Democrats broke an eight-year losing streak, winning 15-10 to steal the coveted Roll Call trophy.

“The game was just a few weeks after I gave birth, and I wasn’t in fighting shape,” she said. “They tell you to take it easy for four to six weeks.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen held down the fort, representing the women of Congress while Sánchez sat out. But the Florida Republican has opted to drop baseball in favor of a more female-friendly sport this season.

“The bipartisan women’s softball game took off, and I started going to the practices, which were fun. So I’m sticking with softball,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “There is no crying in baseball, so I had to opt out.”

Sánchez said it’s unfortunate that she’s the only woman on the field, but she added that she’ll try to recruit more next year. Now that Sánchez’s son, Joaquin, is 1 year old, she’s able to reclaim her spot on the squad.

Sánchez said her recovery took longer than usual because she had a cesarean section, but she insisted she’s back and better than ever and ready to sub in at her old pinch-hitter position.

“I’ve been attending as many practices as I can,” she said. “And my new workout regimen contains lifting and chasing a very heavy 25-pound boy around the house.”

Sánchez said she probably won’t do any fielding but hopes to help her team to victory by driving in some solid base hits.

“I’ve been doing really well with my hitting. The hitting is sort of my strong suit,” she said. “I can get the balls into the gaps and get on base.”

Nevertheless, Sánchez aspires to expand her playing time.

“The sad truth is that because so many people want to play … they try to focus on what your strengths are and rotate in and out of the game,” she said. “One of these days I’d really like to at least get an inning in at second base. I’m hoping that if the Dems score enough points, I’ll get a chance at that.”

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