Historical Highlights

The 1926 Congressional Baseball Game

May 01, 1926
The 1926 Congressional Baseball Game Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Ten members of the 1926 Democratic baseball team. Back row, left to right: Arthur Greenwood of Indiana, Webber Wilson of Mississippi, Fred Vinson of Kentucky, James Mead of New York, Jeff Busby of Mississippi. Front row, left to right: Gordon Browning of Tennessee, Marvin Jones of Texas, Fritz Lanham of Texas, Thomas McMillan of South Carolina, and J.E. O'Connell of Rhode Island.
On this date, Democrats and Republicans met on the greensward at American League Park for the ritual Congressional Baseball Game—a tradition dating to 1909. On the eve of the game, the press beckoned staff and city residents to fill the bleachers. “Public encouragement and applause may work wonders in developing Walter Johnsons and Babe Ruths from the raw material of Congress,” chortled the Washington Post. “To many Americans the baseball bat is mightier than the tongue; and in any event the exercise of another set of muscles will be beneficial to the habitues of the cloakrooms.” More than 4,000 fans arrived early to watch elaborate pre-game ceremonies. An elephant and donkey led parades by both parties, while a comedian served as emcee and the Army and Navy bands played tunes. Speaker Nicholas Longworth of Ohio, flanked by an entourage of social and political leaders, occupied the President’s box. Ticket sales supported the Congressional Wives’ Club. The game was a high-scoring affair as Republicans opened an early lead by ripping into Democratic pitching for seven runs on six hits. Representative Carl G. Bachmann of West Virginia led the GOP on 4-for-4 hitting, including a double. Behind the bats of Thomas J. Busby of Mississippi, Thomas W. Wilson of Mississippi, and James M. Mead of New York—each went 3-for-4 at the plate—Democrats forged ahead to a 12–9 advantage. In the bottom of the seventh inning, however, Republicans tried to ignite a rally by sending their big sluggers to bat out of order. When Representative Bachmann strode into the batter’s box for a fifth time, Democrats protested. After 15 minutes of debate and wrangling at home plate, the umpires called the game in the Democrats’ favor.

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