What is the congressional baseball game?

A gunman opened fire Wednesday while Republican lawmakers were practicing for the annual congressional baseball game.

What exactly were they practicing for?

The game, formally known as the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, has been an ongoing bipartisan tradition in Washington, D.C., since 1909, pitting Democrats and Republicans against each other in a friendly baseball showdown. Lawmakers practice for the game early in the morning in the weeks leading up to the game. Head to the ballpark on gameday and you'll often see members of Congress dressed in uniforms representing their districts or states.

While Democrats have dominated the game in recent years, Republicans broke the Dems' winning streak last year.

This year's game, scheduled to take place Thursday at Nationals Park, will go on in the wake of Wednesday's attack.

"The members of Congress, the staff and the volunteers who were out at practice this morning care deeply about the causes they play to benefit," game organizers said in a statement. "We believe the best way to honor them is to play the game as scheduled tomorrow night.

According to the House of Representatives' Office of the Historian, the Boston Daily Globe wrote of that first, much more casual congressional baseball game: "The game was brewing for weeks and the members of the house were keyed up 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."

The game has experienced some hiccups over the decades, from having intermittent games because of the Great Depression and World War II to Speaker Sam Rayburn putting an end to the game all together in 1958.

The game's modern reiteration began in 1962, when Speaker John McCormack revived the game with the help and sponsorship of Roll Call, according to the House.

It has acted as a charity in recent years, raising millions of dollars for local groups in Washington, D.C. Last year, the game garnered more than $500,000. This year, the supported charities are the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Washington Literacy Center.

A few other facts on the game:

1. The series is tied.

Republicans have won 39 games, Democrats have won 39 games. There has been one tie.

2. Republicans to the right; Democrats to the left.

Republicans use the first-base dugout — the right side if looking at the field from behind home plate — and their fans are positioned on the right side of the grandstands. Democrats use the third-base dugout and their fans sit on the left side of the infield and outfield.

3. Tickets are relatively inexpensive.

Prices for the 2017 game are set at $15 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission tickets. Parking costs $11.

4. The game is on social media.

Follow these accounts for information on the game: FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Contributing: Dave Breitenstein, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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