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Photos courtesy of Congressman Tom Suozzi
Photos courtesy of Congressman Tom Suozzi
Members of the Democratic and Republican baseball teams pray for wounded Congressman Steve Scalise during the June 15 Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Tom Suozzi said he was humbled and moved to be part of the annual Congressional baseball game that took place only a day after a gunman opened fire on several Republican colleagues while they practiced at a Virginia ballfield.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was among those seriously wounded on June 14 by the gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, who was subsequently shot by police and died of his wounds. Scalise, who was shot in the hip, suffered critical injuries and is still recovering at an area hospital.

 

Suozzi said he and his fellow teammates on the Democratic Congressional team learned of the tragedy at 7:30 a.m. that morning as they practiced at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

“After the initial shock, confirmation of the events, and being instructed by police to shelter in place at the dugout, the entire Democratic team circled together and prayed for our Republican colleagues and the other victims,” Suozzi said. “It was very moving.”

Despite the tragic events, the game — the 80th of the tradition dating back to 1909 — went on as planned the following night at Nationals Park. Suozzi, who was in the starting lineup as designated hitter, said the event transcended politics and baseball.

“After the shootings last Wednesday, the game took on a more important meaning, and the experience was truly humbling,” the congressman said. “Since day one I have talked about bipartisan cooperation and civility. It’s a shame it took a tragedy, but now it’s a part of the national conversation.”

Prior to the game, lawmakers knelt at second base, where the injured Scalise was supposed to play, in a show of bipartisan unity, the congressman said. Suozzi and others also sported Louisiana State University (LSU) gear in honor of Scalise, who attended the school.

“It was a very emotional and sobering week for all of us,” Suozzi said. ‘I sincerely hope we use this unique opportunity to show the American people that we’re here to try and get things done —  together as Americans.”

Congressman Tom Suozzi, wearing a Mets uniform, also wore an LSU game to honor House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Congressman Tom Suozzi, wearing a Mets uniform, also wore an LSU cap to honor House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

The annual game raised a record $1.5 million for charity and was attended by nearly 25,000 fans.

The Democrats won the game 11-2. Following their victory, the Democrats gave this year’s trophy to the Republicans to place in Scalise’s office until he recovers

“I will continue to pray for Steve, the injured officers and other victims, and for our country,” Suozzi said. “We have important work to do. The people are sick of politics and politicians and we need to work together on these life and death issues and actually get things done – together.”

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