While the modern Congressional Baseball Game includes both House and Senate Members, this was not always the case. From 1909 to 1949, House Members exclusively filled the rosters—although there appears to have been no prohibition against Senators. Bicameral baseball was inaugurated in 1950, when Senator Harry Cain of Washington joined the Republican team.
In a few cases, former professional baseball players were elected to Congress and were stars of the annual game. In the case of Vinegar Bend Mizell of North Carolina, a former professional pitcher, the Republican team was victorious for each year that he played. Fielding a once-a-year team presented some problems for Members, who often grew rusty when it came to batting. Strong pitching proved decisive in most games but, in 1963, neither team could field a pitcher. As a result, relief pitcher George Susce of the Washington Senators pitched for both teams. In 1917, Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana tossed out the first pitch and kept score, becoming the first woman to participate in the annual event. More than 70 years later, in 1993, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas became the first women to break into the starting lineup.
In 1971, the first African-American Members played in the game. Delegate Walter Fauntroy of the District of Columbia and Representative Ronald Dellums of California joined the Democrats’ roster. Despite Fauntroy’s hitting prowess, the Democrats lost their eighth straight annual game, 7-3.
Listen to long time congressional staffer, Joe Bartlett recall memories of Vinegar Bend and the Congressional Baseball Games during his oral history interview:
Former Professional Baseball Players in the House of Representatives
|John Kinley Tener (R-PA)||61st|
|William Oldfield (D-AR)||61st–70th|
|Thomas McMillan (D-SC)||69th–76th|
|Edward Austin Kelly (D-IL)||72nd–79th|
|Raymond Joseph Cannon (D-WI)||73rd–75th|
|Pius Louis Schwert (D-NY)||76th–77th|
|Cecil William (Runt) Bishop (R-IL)||77th–83rd|
|Wilmer David (Vinegar Bend) Mizell (R-NC)||91st–93rd|
|James Paul David Bunning (R-KY)||100th–105th|
Baseball Team Executives in the House of Representatives
|William Wallace McCredie (R-WA)||61st|
|Albert Clinton Willford (D-IA)||73rd|
|Joseph Andrew Dixon (D-OH)||75th|
|Ralph Hunter Daughton (D-VA)||78th–79th|
|Albert Sydney Herlong, Jr. (D-FL)||81st–90th|
|Frank Jefferson Horton (R-NY)||88th–102nd|