Wearing a purple Colorado Rockies jacket and a look of determination, the rookie phenom whom Democrats have pinned their hopes on for this year’s Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game stepped up to the plate for batting practice.
He swung and missed.
But unlike Mighty Casey, this batter didn’t strike out. He proceeded to deliver the next four balls to the outfield fence.
But it’s not batting practice that has Democrats excited about 37-year-old freshman Rep. Cedric Richmond. It’s his pitching arm.
The Louisiana lawmaker, who played baseball while attending Morehouse College, has Democratic manager Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) fired up.
“If you’ve got a dominant pitcher, you can win, because this is one game a year — this isn’t what we do,” Doyle said. “A dominant pitcher can really change the game, and Cedric has the ability to do that. … If he can keep it in the strike zone, I think he’s going to be tough to hit.”
Richmond is also younger and quicker than many of his teammates — he’s “like a rabbit,” according to Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.). Doyle agrees.
“Cedric’s got wheels. That’s the other good thing,” Doyle said. “You see how quick he got back there? Some people don’t look like they’re putting out a lot of effort. They have natural moves. You can tell by the way he goes back on a fly, just the way he handles himself, that he’s played the game.”
Richmond isn’t used to the crowds or the pressure that comes from playing in a Major League Baseball stadium, but he is looking forward to the challenge and isn’t nervous yet.
“I really am excited about getting the chance to play in a major league stadium in front of a big crowd,” he said. “The one thing about my college, we didn’t get a big crowd at baseball games. … I’m ready for a bigger crowd.”
As competitive as he is, Richmond is also enjoying the camaraderie and the atmosphere at the team’s practices. He isn’t afraid to shout encouragement or tease his fellow players as they step to the plate. (“Hope you do better than your Cardinals did last night, Lacy,” he shouted at Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay.)
Although he knows the game is a big deal for everyone, for him, it’s personal.
“Steve Scalise plays on the Republican side,” he said of his home-state colleague. “We have neighboring districts, and we served in the Legislature together, so we’re pretty competitive. I can’t wait to get a chance to pitch against Steve.”