Historical Highlights

The 23rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game

June 21, 1984
The 23rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game Image courtesy of Library of Congress A former professional baseball player, John Tener of Pennsylvania organized the first congressional baseball game during his one term in the House. He resigned his seat on January 16, 1911, to serve as governor of Pennsylvania.
On this date, the 23rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game took place at Four Mile Run Park in Alexandria, Virginia. Republicans prevailed in the seven-inning charity contest against Democrats, 13 to 4, although one of their own, Representative Lyle Williams of Ohio, broke his leg during play. This was not the first injury to mar the Congressional Baseball Game—in fact, in 1958 Speaker  Samuel Rayburn of Texas had halted the longstanding annual game because so many Members were being injured. Representative John Tener of Pennsylvania, a former professional player, inaugurated the congressional baseball tradition in 1909. At the time, the Boston Daily Globe observed, “The game was brewing for weeks and the members of the house were keyed up to a high pitch of enthusiasm. Deep, dark rumors were in circulation that ‘ringers’ would be introduced, but when they lined up at 4 o’clock the nine republicans were stalwart, grand old party men, while the democrats were of the pure Jeffersonian strain.” Democrats prevailed in that inaugural game, 26 to 16. Thereafter, the annual game continued intermittently until 1958. In 1962, under Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts, the game was renewed with the sponsorship of Roll Call newspaper; it has continued annually ever since.

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