Annual US Congress baseball game brings unity after shooting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Members of the U.S. Congress took the field for their traditional Republicans vs. Democrats baseball game on Thursday, with many wearing hats to honor Representative Steve Scalise, who was critically wounded by a gunman as his Republican team practiced a day before.

When the members of the Republican team were announced at Nationals Park, mention of Scalise's named drew a standing ovation from the areas designated for Republican, Democrat and nonpartisan fans alike.

President Donald Trump did not attend but in a video address shown on the stadium's giant screen praised the friendly nature of the game.

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Congressional Baseball Game held after shooting
Patrick Conroy, Chaplain of the House of Representatives, leads Democrats and Republicans in prayer before they face off in the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: U.S. Capitol Hill special agent David Bailey (L), who was wounded in yesterday's shooting, throws out the first pitch before the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on June 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. Bailey and special agent Crystal Griner were assigned to U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and returned fire during the attack. Scalise is in critical condition following a shooting yesterday during a Republican congressional baseball team practice. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speak before the Democrats and Republicans face off in the annual Congressional Baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Ivanka Trump, Assistant to President Donald Trump, is seen with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Signs acknowledging wounded congressman Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) are seen prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Father Pat Conroy, Chaplain of the House of Representatives, leads members of the Republican and Democratic Congressional baseball teams in prayer prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry greets Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), manager of the Republican team, prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) stands with Director of the Office of Management Mick Mulvaney (L) before Democrats and Republicans face off in the annual Congressional Baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Special Agent David Bailey of the U.S. Capitol Police, wounded in Wednesday's attack, is seen with former Yankees manager Joe Torre, as he throws out the first pitch during the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
UNITED STATES - JUNE 15: Patrick Conroy, Chaplain of the House of Representatives, left, leads both teams in a moment of prayer before the start of the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington on Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 15: GOP shortstop Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., dives for a ground ball during the 2nd inning of the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington on Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Special Agent David Bailey of the U.S. Capitol Police, wounded in Wednesday's attack, gestures to the crowd during the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Capitol Police Special Agent David Bailey, who was wounded in yesterday's shooting, throws the first pitch during the Congressional Baseball Game between Democrats and Republicans at Nationals Stadium June 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. This year's congressional charity baseball game is proceeding after a rifle-wielding critic of President Donald Trump opened fire June 14, 2017 on US lawmakers practicing for the charity event, seriously wounding a top Republican congressman and three others before he was killed by police. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 15: Steve Scales fans waves signs before the start of the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington on Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Ivanka Trump, Assistant to President Donald Trump, gestures to the crowd next to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Members of the crowd cheer as the Republican team is introduced during the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Members of the Republican team pray before the Democrats and Republicans face off in the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A baseball card with an image of Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is seen prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Form LA Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey (L) speaks with Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) before the Democrats and Republicans face off in the annual Congressional Baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A Republican supporter holds up an American flag before Democrats and Republicans face off in the annual Congressional Baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan visit members of the Republican team prior to the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Police officers check boxes before the Democrats and Republicans face off in the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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David Bailey, a Capitol Hill police officer who was part of Scalise's security detail and helped bring down the shooter, also was injured in the Wednesday incident but had recovered enough to throw the game's ceremonial first pitch.

Both Republican and Democratic leaders at the game encouraged a sense of unity in the wake of the shooting during an otherwise politically rancorous time in Washington when the parties are sharply divided over healthcare legislation and investigations of the members of the Trump administration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stood side by side to shout: "Let's play ball!" and the crowd chanted "U-S-A! U-S-A!" as the game began.

Scalise, 51, a Louisiana Republican who is the No. 3 House Republican, remained in critical condition at a hospital a few miles from the stadium after undergoing a third surgery on Thursday. He was hit in the left hip, suffering injuries to internal organs, broken bones and severe bleeding, in Thursday's shooting.

For the game, which began in 1909, members of the Senate and House of Representatives donned uniforms representing teams from their constituencies for the game and many topped them with hats from Louisiana State University, Scalise's alma mater, as a tribute.

In addition to Scalise, a police officer, a congressional aide and a lobbyist were wounded on Wednesday morning when a man opened fire as the Republican lawmakers practiced for the game in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia.

More than 20,000 tickets had been sold for the game as of 4 p.m. on Thursday and it was on track to raise more than $1 million, roughly double what it did last year, for charities, its organizers said.

The Capitol Police Memorial Fund was added to the list of charities that will receive money raised by the game in honor of two members of Scalise's security detail who were at the Wednesday practice session and returned fire. The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and the Washington Literary Center are the game's other beneficiaries.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Bill Trott)

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