Yesterday the Democrats prevailed over the Republicans, 15-6, in the annual Congressional Baseball Game. Here at the NotGraphs History Desk, in a comedic gambit best described as “desperate,” we were inspired to take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from CBG’s over the years.
1850: In a contest which pitted Democrats against the upstart Whigs, lanky southpaw Henry Clay soon proved so dominant that Democrat fans began leaving the ballpark in droves. In an impromptu and unprecedented move, the managers for the two sides put their heads together and came up with a solution: instead of needing just one strike for an out, Clay would be forced to record three. The Whigs won anyway, in a thrilling 9-8 walkoff, but the successful rule change would go down in history as the “Compromise of 1850.”
1856: In a tense game played under gathering storm-clouds both metaphorical and literal, Republican ace Charles Sumner opened the seventh with consecutive strikeouts. Dem pinch-hitter Preston Brooks then charged the mound in defense of his teammates’ honor, beating Sumner unconscious with his bat, which was afterwards found to be tipped with metal. The game was promptly called and America began its irreversible spiral towards war.
1868: With Reconstruction in full swing, there was plenty of bad blood between the sides as the Dems and GOP met for the 80th time. Tempers took little time in boiling over as President Andrew Johnson, serving as home plate umpire, ejected three Republicans on questionable grounds within the first two innings. Cries for impeachment soon reached a crescendo in the crowd, and though Johnson eventually restored order, his reputation would be forever tarnished.
1933: In a bold effort to restore national pride in the heart of the Depression, new president Franklin Delano Roosevelt scheduled a special baseball game to be played in March. The reaction from fans proved so overwhelming that the congressmen contrived to keep the contest going for a record 100 innings, with the GOP finally prevailing on a three-run blast by House minority leader Bertrand Snell — a shot that, as FDR later good-naturedly claimed, “would live in infamy.”
1957: The 169th CBG was highlighted by a feat of unprecedented endurance, as Democrat slugger Strom Thurmond, with his team already down by ten runs in the fifth, fouled off an astonishing 87 consecutive pitches to ensure that darkness would end the game before becoming official.
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