The Players

Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell, 1953 Baseball Card/tiles/non-collection/e/ex_baseball_mizell_2006_164_000.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Future Representative Wilmer Mizell of North Carolina pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the New York Mets before entering Congress.
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, when Senator Harry Cain of Washington joined the Republican team in 1950.

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 was selected to toss 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:

Joe Bartlett, Clerk to the Minority, U.S. House of Representatives Interview recorded May 17, 2006 Transcript (PDF)

Former Professional Baseball Players in the House of Representatives

MemberHouse Service
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

MemberHouse Service
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