Shooting During Annual Congressional Baseball Game

Donovan Maudsley - 3T Mechanical
Posted on: June 18, 2017

The American love of baseball runs deep. Family traditions surround the game and many reminisce fondly on childhood ballpark memories. Almost everyone has played for a team on some level and back in 1909 a former professional player turned congressman, John Tener, organized the inaugural Congressional baseball game. Meant as a bipartisan team building exercise the game has occurred pretty much annually since then. There were breaks for the Great War, the Great Depression, the Second World War, and once because the Congressmen actually needed to do work. Neither of the two parties has managed to take a clear edge in the series though. The overall record sits at 39-39-1.

Eventually the game transformed from just a friendly rivalry to a charity event, supporting organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and the Nationals Dream Foundation.

The 2017 game was set to take place on Thursday June 15th, and each team was given time to practice at Nationals Park the day before. During the Republican team’s practice, a shooter opened fire on the field. James Hodgkinson, a strong supporter of Democrat Bernie Sanders, shot GOP congressman Steve Scalise, two congressional staffers and two capitol police officers. Representative Scalise was in the worst condition after the shooting, having been shot in the hip, and as of this writing all five victims are recovering.

Hodgkinson, a formerly self employed liberal from Illinois, had been living out of a van parked near the baseball field for the last few months. He was known to frequent the local YMCA where he actually bumped shoulders with the former Mayor of Alexandria Bill Euille. Hodgkinson had sought out the former mayor to some degree, asking for restaurant and bar recommendations within walking distance. Other members of the YMCA gym stated that Hodgkinson had seemed fairly out of place at the gym as he never worked out or even wore gym clothes. Other community members had admitted to knowing Hodgkinson, he frequented a few parks in the area, and stated that he didn’t seem scary, just out of it. Hodgkinson died in a shoot out with Alexandria Police shortly after the incident at the field.

Hodgkinson used a Soviet carbide rifle, the one which was eventually replaced by the AK47 in military applications, and a 9mm pistol. Both of these guns were acquired legally in the state of Illinois and he was permitted to carry them in a concealed fashion. He had also had numerous run-ins with local Illinois police in the past, issues ranging from excessive noise to assault and battery.  It almost isn’t worth stating but this seems to be another case of a private citizen having too much access to firearms.

In a show of solidarity the game continued as planned on Thursday night. Fans packed the stands and the teams carried on. Scalise Strong was a cheer heard often throughout the night. The Democrats would go on to win 11-2, but both parties walked away stronger and hopefully with more resolve to change the laws surrounding firearms.