Fans flocked to Nationals Park Thursday night for the annual congressional baseball game, despite Wednesday’s shooting at a baseball practice in Alexandria, where a gunman opened fire injuring Rep. Steve Scalise and four others.
Doors opened at 5:30 p.m. and the first pitch was at 7:05 p.m., but sponsors lined up outside the ballpark to get everything set up.
Republican fans sat in the right field, Democrats sat in the left field.
No matter where people were sitting, everyone agreed the game was just about the fun and coming together.
Two Capitol Hill staffers who work for Congressman Bill Johnson of Ohio said they arrived early to scout out seats for the office. The staffers said the mood on the Hill was somber Thursday, but there was a message of unity.
“It’s a powerful message,” said Jeremy Kerola, a Hill staffer. “It’s one that shows no matter the atrocities we face, we’re able to overcome and come together.”
The two said that message of unity leads them to believe Nationals Park is about to be packed full of support.
“I think it shows even after this kind of scare, America can still go on,” said Hill staffer Travis Collins.
Capitol Hill Police carried a large presence outside of the center field gate, where spectators lined up to get into the park. All attendees will be required to go through metal detectors before entering the game and bomb sniffing dogs are on sight as well.
The bipartisan game is one of the longest running matchups when it comes to both politics and sports. Over the years, the Congressional Baseball Game has been a fundraiser for charities including The Washington Literacy Center, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
As of 6 p.m. Thursday night, ticket sales topped $20,000 and more than $1 million has been raised.