Legislators Enjoy Bi-Partisan Baseball

May 8, 2013

History and America’s pastime met on the Statehouse lawn Tuesday, as Ohio lawmakers once again attempted to beat a team of baseball players who follow Civil War-era rules.

Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler has the highlights. 

For the first time in the last three years, the Capitol Cannons looked like they came ready to play the Ohio Village Muffins, who have racked up big numbers in the last two matches. Rep. Tom Letson, a Democrat of Warren, captained the team of lawmakers from both parties, which he says came in with a strategy.
“We plan on being tricky, outlasting our competitors, and against all odds, scoring a few runs.”

Civil War era baseball has a different language along with its rules – the batter is the striker, the pitcher the hurler, and after the ball is hit players “leg it” instead of run. A single umpire in top hat and long coat rules on controversial plays and can fine players for bad behavior. And this is a game of fielding more than hitting – a home run is rare, and runners are if their hit is caught not only in the air, but after one bounce on the ground. So defense is critical. The lawmakers held the team of historic re-enactors to five scoreless innings, but didn’t score themselves. Muffins manager Jim Kimnach admitted the zeroes on both sides was a bit of a surprise.
Kimnach: “It is. No score yet at all. Some good plays out there.”
Kasler: “What’s going on? How – “
Kimnach: “I don’t know. I think they’ve been practicing.”

Even the commentators, Columbus sportscaster Vince Tornero and our own Bill Cohen, were impressed.
“Great bipartisan teamwork, there, Bill.”
”Who says these legislators can’t work across party lines?
“Takes a great American tradition to bring both parties together.”

But in the fifth inning, a surprise move. Republican Rep. Christina Hagan – the losing team’s MVP last year – arrived in a suit and heels, but agreed to join the Muffins’ roster. She struck out, but the announcers agreed this was an unusual move.
“Vince, in all your years of broadcasting sports, have you ever seen a development like this where somebody switches teams?
“No, I have not. This is shocking. With the hurl….”

There were jokes about switching parties, with Democrats noting they already had a Bob Hagan in the House. But some in the crowd suspected the lawmaker from Alliance had made an alliance with the Muffins.
“She’s a double agent, apparently!”

Because after she struck out, the Muffins scored, with each run marked with a ring of a bell – and kept on scoring.

After the damage was done, the Cannons tried to stop the bleeding. Republican Rep. Peter Stautberg of the Cincinnati area even stepped in front of a pitch to get hit and take a walk….

…but he was caught by the umpire, who ordered him to pay a fine of 25 cents for ungentlemanly conduct. The Cannons failed to put up even one run – or ace, in Civil War parlance – and so they fell again to the Muffins in seven innings, 6 to nothing. But everyone agreed the legislators’ performance was a big improvement over the last two years, including Democratic Rep. Dan Ramos of Lorain.
Kasler: “You guys are getting better and better.”
Ramos: “We’ll get good enough soon to be termed out.”

There are Statehouse observers who say the partisan battles that have gripped the legislature in recent history are some of the most bitter they’ve seen. But for the last three years, this game has been a hit with lawmakers. So it’s expected to be scheduled again next year.