Craig: A comedy of errors: The first Congressional Baseball Game

From Mary Craig at The Hardball Times on April 10, 2017:

The encroaching clouds burst open, pounding Washington with tremendous rain, thunder and lightning, foreshadowing the electric and devastating months ahead for Congress. But just prior, in the few moments of calm before the storm, Congress participated for the first time in one of its greatest—and perhaps only—displays of camaraderie, the Congressional baseball game. Organized by a former professional baseballer, the game perfectly injected some much-needed humor into the stormy Congressional summer of 1909.

In the spring of that year, Congress found itself deeply divided on the issue of tariffs, with the Republican party on the verge of fracturing. Shortly after his March 4 inauguration, President Taft called Congress into special session to pass tariff legislation for the first time since 1897. The overwhelming Republican majority in the House quickly passed a bill reducing many tariffs, while Senate Republicans introduced legislation that lowered some tariffs and raised many others. The sweltering heat of the summer filled Congress, leading to vocal confrontations between the supporters of each bill.

Missing baseball and wanting to rescue his party from the brink of destruction, John Tener, a Republican representative from Pennsylvania,organized a Congressional baseball game between the Republicans and the Democrats. Tener played two seasons with the Chicago White Stockings and one with the newly formed Pittsburgh Burghers, serving as a mediocre-to-poor pitcher and outfielder.

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Originally published: April 21, 2017. Last Updated: April 21, 2017.