Not Just Another Girls' Night Out
A measure of progress in the quest for equality: There are now enough women in Congress to field a softball team.
Well, technically they passed that threshold years ago -- heck, the Senate alone technically now has enough ladies for a starting lineup and a nearly complete second-string! Somehow, though, no one ever got around to organizing a game until last night, when a congressional women's team suited up for a charity game against female staffers on a Glover Park field.
A Title IX-generation thing? Not really. In six weeks of practice, one of the standouts was 72-year-old Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) "I saw her hit last night," marveled Marcia Stein, head of Young Survival Coalition, the breast cancer charity that benefited from the match. "But they're all pretty good hitters."
"We've got a pretty good group of women," said the team captain, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who cooked up the idea last year. She played varsity softball in high school, though others copped to a little less playing time: "Like, for a hot minute in seventh and eighth grade!" confessed Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.).
"Oh, Donna is a very good catcher!" gushed Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). The vibe was both bipartisan-bonding and you-go-girl: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) gamely stepped onto the field with a skirt and pumps below her pink team shirt; Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) gave a pep talk to nervous pitcher Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.): "It's really all on us in the outfield!"
Well, sometimes nerves are there for a reason: Emerson walked the first batter. The umpires stopped the first inning -- "mercy rule!" -- after the mostly 20- and 30-something staffers scored five runs before the congresswomen could notch an out. Soon the staffers led 12-0.
And then -- the rally. Edwards drew a bases-loaded walk, and the team swarmed Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) like a home run queen as she strolled home. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) doubled in the seventh, kicking off a white-hot hitting streak. In the end: a respectable loss, 14-8.
And naturally, speeches: Schultz took the mike to cheer the spirit of bipartisanship and the final fundraising take of $40,000 -- before she was whisked into an ambulance with the ankle she broke sliding into second.
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