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Safe at first (amendment): Press triumphs again at Congressional Softball Game

Bad News Babes beat lawmakers 5-1

Rep Kat Cammack, R-Fla., right, and Emily Goodin of are seen at second base after a play during the Congressional Women's Softball Game on Wednesday.
Rep Kat Cammack, R-Fla., right, and Emily Goodin of are seen at second base after a play during the Congressional Women's Softball Game on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, after months of round-the-clock negotiations on multitrillion-dollar legislation, Congress’ hopes of yelling “Stop the presses!” fell short.

The Bad News Babes won their 5th consecutive Congressional Women’s Softball Game, 5-1, before a crowd of hundreds at Watkins Recreation Center in Southeast Washington.

Like the often terse confrontations in the Capitol’s hallways, the annual slow-pitch matchup pits members of the press against members of Congress, but all for a good cause: supporting young breast cancer patients and survivors.

The game raised more than $508,000 for the Young Survival Coalition, eclipsing 2019’s record-setting tally of $365,000. Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19.

Despite the addition of eight congressional rookies, including millennial freshmen Reps. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., and Kat Cammack, R-Fla., age told the tale of the game, with the press team averaging on the happier side of 40.

Still, the members had a few nice plays, led by a bipartisan duo from the upper chamber: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on the mound and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito in the batter’s box.

Playing shortstop for Congress, Rep. Nanette Barragán drew on her past. She made her high school baseball team, but ultimately joined the softball team instead after receiving flack from the boys. “And the guys weren’t very good,” she said.

Barragán, who also plays on the Congressional Football team in an annual game against the Capitol Police, demurred when asked which of her fellow two-sport stars, Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, she played most like.

“I would say neither one,” she said. “I’ve just tried to play for good causes.”

An all-star crew of Dana Bash, Andrea Mitchell and Sen. Amy Klobuchar provided play-by-play for the crowd. Klobuchar herself faced a breast cancer scare earlier this year, announcing in September that she had successfully completed treatment. Mitchell is also a breast cancer survivor. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., greets Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., right, and members of the Congress team before Wednesday’s game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress had a glimmer of hope heading into the 7th with the game tied 1-1, but then the Babes scored four runs to seal the game.

The only thing fiercer than the action on the diamond was the trash talk traded between the two teams.

“We’ve got big bats, and we cannot lie,” said Amy Walter, the Babes’ pitcher and editor-in-chief at the Cook Political Report.

The softball game retains the DIY feel of your company softball league, only with a few hundred Capitol Police officers patrolling the perimeter and no beer.

The latter of those differences might explain why the softball game doesn’t draw in the same throngs of staffers and spectators as the Congressional Baseball Game.

(Full disclosure: CQ Roll Call senior political reporter Bridget Bowman bats first for the press team.)

There’s talk of moving the game to a larger venue, perhaps joining the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park. That would increase the game’s profile and, with it, ticket sales supporting the Young Survival Coalition.

But it would be a little bittersweet, changing the feel of the game. “I love the intimacy of this field, and the fact that we can interact with fans,” said Walter.

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