Congressional Baseball Game a chance to shed partisanship

There are very few bipartisan traditions left in Washington, but for 108 years the Congressional Baseball Game has been one of them, drawing thousands of fans each year. A desire to demonstrate that unity is why, despite the shooting at Wednesday's practice in Alexandria, Virginia, the game will go on, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford. 

The skills on the field – while not major league caliber – might just surprise you.

When Republicans and Democrats square off on the diamond, "the level of competition is intense," says  Nathaniel Rakich. He's been covering the congressional baseball game for five years.

"They take it very seriously, with a lot of smack-talk," Rakich tells CBS News.

Rakich says one of the most determined players on the field is Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Scalise was shot in the hip Wednesday while practicing for the showdown.

"He is one of the toughest competitors out there, one of the hardest workers," Rakich says.

Wednesday afternoon, the managers of the two teams, Republican Rep. Joe Barton and Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle, announced that despite the shooting, the game was on.
 
The Congressional Baseball Game was created in 1909 by Pennsylvania Congressman John Tener, a former pitcher for the Chicago White Stockings. War, a depression, and the business of the Congress sometimes canceled the games. But when the teams do play, they play hard, and for keeps.

Women began playing in 1993. Rep. Linda Sanchez has played for 15 years, and she says the game is a chance to shed the customary partisanship of Washington.

"It's a chance to take a break from the polarized atmosphere of legislating and just have a little bit of fun with our colleagues in something that's our national pastime," Sanchez said.

Thursday's game will be a tiebreaker; Republicans and Democrats have both won 39 games, lost 39, and tied once. 

Proceeds and donations go to charity. In the wake of Wednesday's shooting, a new charity was added to the list of donation recipients this year: the Capitol Police Memorial Fund.