Female lawmakers and Capitol Hill reporters gathered Wednesday night for their annual friendly faceoff on the softball diamond to raise money to fight breast cancer.
But the normally low-key game, thrust into the national spotlight after last week’s congressional baseball practice shooting, was packed with spectators jamming the bleachers, members of leadership mingling with the teams and hordes of Capitol Police keeping a watchful eye over the event.
Before the game, attendees held a moment of silence for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and others who were injured during last week’s shooting.
Scalise is still in the hospital after a gunman trained his rifle on the House majority whip and other Republican lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists last Wednesday as the group practiced for the annual congressional baseball game.
Scalise, near death when he arrived at the hospital last week, was upgraded to fair condition earlier Wednesday.
Crystal Griner, the Capitol Hill Police officer shot in the ankle while trying to defend lawmakers against the gunman, threw out the first pitch in Wednesday night’s game.
Released from the hospital hours earlier, Griner was in a wheelchair while throwing out the pitch.
The catcher stepped closer to Griner so she could reach the shorter throw but Griner waived at her to move back. Not satisfied with her first throw, which went to the left of home plate, Griner threw another pitch.
David Bailey, the other Capitol Police office injured in the shootout, threw out the first pitch during last week’s congressional baseball game.
Griner, a member of Scalise’s security detail, had to undergo extensive restructuring of her leg after the bullet tore through her ankle.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and several other members not playing in the game were spotted in the crowd.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and CNN’s Dana Bash worked the microphones, serving as the game announcers.
The congressional women’s softball game, while attended annually by Capitol Hill loyalists, is typically a far more subdued affair than the annual congressional baseball game, which is played in Nationals Stadium.
The women’s game, by comparison, is played on an artificial-turf football field on Capitol Hill fashioned into a makeshift softball field.
This is the ninth annual congressional softball game, which raises money for the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit that helps young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
The game was a dramatic shift from previous years, with tickets selling out earlier in the day and security everywhere, even on a nearby elementary school roof.
Lawmakers and press corps players, their team aptly named the Bad News Babes, had a variety of fun walk up songs including the Star Wars theme song and "Pour Some Sugar on Me."
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), walking up to John Denver’s "Take Me Home, Country Roads," said she was playing for Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who’s recovering from surgery to treat kidney cancer.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Miami-area Republican retiring after this Congress, danced to the walk up songs from her position in right field.
Players took a moment to honor Ros-Lehtinen before the first pitch, saying they’d miss her trash talking reporters in the hallway in the weeks leading up to the game.