President Biden made a surprise appearance at the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity at Nationals Park in Washington Wednesday night, taking a break from the ongoing drama coming from within his own party and putting the fate of his two massive spending bills into jeopardy.
Biden arrived at Nationals Park in the top of the second inning, causing the game to brief pause as the president walked onto the field into the third-base dugout where the Democrat section was located. At first, the president was greeted with a brief welcoming roar, but it loudly turned into prolonged boos.
Before his surprise visit, the president was one of the four former players inducted into the Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame, alongside his senior adviser, former Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, former Rep. John Shimkus, and the late President George H. W. Bush. Biden played on behalf of the Democratic team during the time he was a Senator.
Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) briefly took the focus off President Biden to bring the attention back to the field, hitting a rare out-of-the-park home run during the Congressional game. At the bottom of the third, Steube, on the first pitch from Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA). The monster shot sent the ball deep to left-field bleachers, hitting off a railing ricocheted back onto the field as Steube slow trotted around the bases before being mobbed by his GOP teammates as at home plate.
The out-of-the-park home run from Steube is the first in the Congressional game in more than 40 years. Steube is the first lawmaker to clear the fence at Nationals Park since the annual game was moved in 2008 to the Washington Nationals new ballpark. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the father of Sen. Rand Paul, is the first lawmaker to ever hit an out-of-the-park home run in the game in 1979.
The Republicans took home the trophy at Wednesday’s night game, beating the Democrats 13-12, the first win for the GOP since 2016 and third in 13 years.
“What a great win,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) told The Floridian after the game, pointing to left field bleachers where Steube’s homer landed.
The game between the two political parties was met with a small group of protestors who were holding banners urging the passage of the $3.5 trillion social welfare package. The two homemade cloth sheet banners read, “Our lives are not a game[.] Pass 3.5T,” while the second one explicitly read “Democrats don’t F—K this up.”
While Biden was chit-chatting with members of his own party ahead of multiple crucial votes, C-SPAN and Fox Sports 1’s TV cameras turned to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was seen sitting behind home plate working the phones while intensely gesturing as she spoke.
Pelosi working the phones during the congressional baseball game as she struggles to unite her own caucus ahead of a pair of bills that is hanging by a thread with time running out pic.twitter.com/IkYVK6DWTz
— Mona Salama (@MonaSalama_) September 30, 2021
Ahead of the baseball game, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made an unscheduled visit to the White House, meeting with Biden for one final meeting.
At the middle of the third inning, Biden made his way to the GOP section, who were situated at the first-base dugout and briefly spent time with lawmakers. Briefly talking with GOP members, Biden returned to the Democratic section, posed for pictures with members, and mingled with the team. Biden stood watching the game with his granddaughter Naomi Biden inside the Democratic dugout for about an hour and left at the bottom of the 6th inning.
The Congressional game has been an annual bipartisan event since 1909 where both members of Congress put politics aside and play ball while raising millions for a handful of local charities. Wednesday’s game raised $1.2 million from ticket sales, concessions, and sponsors for charities, including the Washington Literacy Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
While the game is usually scheduled in the middle of the Summer, the rise of the Delta variant along with the Washington Nationals baseball schedule left just one possible night to re-schedule this year’s game — during the middle of “Hell Week.” With less than 36 hours in the fiscal year, the fate of the fiscal and legislative deadlines looms.