One year after shooting, elated Rep. Scalise takes the ﬁeld at annual ballgame
By ELISE VIEBECK | The Washington Post | Published: June 14, 2018
WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise reclaimed his starting position at second base Thursday night at the annual Congressional Baseball Game, one year after a gunman fired on a practice and nearly killed him.
Walking with a cane, the third-ranking Republican got a standing ovation at he stepped onto the field for the game between Republicans and Democrats at Nationals Park. The contest, one of Capitol Hill's few long-standing bipartisan traditions, was expected to raise at least half a million dollars for children's charities in Washington.
Members of the U.S. Capitol Police security detail who were with Scalise when he was shot tossed out ceremonial pitches Thursday night.
Scalise, La., shed the cane as Democrats batted first and Republicans took the field. On the first pitch, Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., hit the ball to Scalise, who got him out at first. That prompted several lawmakers to rush Scalise and hug him.
After a few pitches, Scalise left the field arm-in-arm with Reps. Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio.
Democrats won the game 21-5.
"I earned the starting job back again," Scalise, in a joking mood, told Fox News on Thursday. "That was great, but it tells you how bad the talent level is that a guy like me who can barely walk out there right now can make it."
"But I can field balls, and I can still make the throw to first," said Scalise, who has undergone nine surgeries and physical therapy.
Scalise's return to the field proved emotional for the lawmakers, staff and family members whose tightknit community was turned upside down by the attack last year.
Shooter James Hodgkinson, who was killed when Scalise's security detail returned fire, targeted Republicans during an early-morning practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
At last year's game, congressional leaders donned "Team Scalise" gear and the two teams gathered to play before a record-breaking crowd while the Republican whip was still in and out of surgery. A bullet had entered his hip and shattered his femur. Infections followed. At times, doctors did not believe he would survive.
Some lawmakers credited the shooting with bringing greater civility to Capitol Hill, though it was unclear how long it lasted or what effect it had.
"I think it did reignite some civility - reestablish may be a better term," Rep. Joe Barton, Texas, who plays for the Republicans, told CNN on Thursday. He said members have been more "genial" and "cooperative."
Scalise said he was moved by the care he felt from around the world. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him at the hospital along with Bono, the lead singer of U2, he told Fox.