Congressional baseball game goes on in wake of shooting

The Republican players before the gameImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were prayers among the Republican players before the game

US politicians are playing in a charity baseball game a day after a shooting – as they practised – wounded a top Republican and three others.

The annual congressional baseball game in Washington has been hailed as a rare and welcome moment of unity among lawmakers of both major parties.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains critical but improving after the Virginia baseball field ambush.

There were huge cheers when his name was heard around the stadium.

“Not here, but in our thoughts and prayers, Steve Scalise,” said the announcer before the game.

One of the Capitol Police officers, David Bailey, who was hailed as a hero for the way he helped to subdue the gunman, appeared on crutches.

To loud applause he threw the first pitch, which is a longstanding baseball ritual that usually falls to a dignitary or celebrity.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption David Bailey, a police officer injured in the shooting, got a huge cheer

President Donald Trump did not attend but sent a video message of support.

The game, held at Nationals Park. has been a congressional tradition for more than a century.

Both Republicans and Democrats have pointed to the attack as a reason to ease heated political rhetoric.

A feel-good moment – Laura Bicker, BBC News, Nationals Park

This isn’t just a baseball game. It is a rare and genuine opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to put their divisions aside and show those gathered in the stadium and watching across the US, that they are not just politicians – they are people and players.

One woman who bought her ticket after yesterday’s shooting told me she wanted just one feel-good moment after everything that has happened. Another group of Republican interns described the game as the only thing in Washington that really works.

The crowds are holding banners and team colours. Many are tributes and prayers for Congressman Steve Scalise.

The running tally of results has Republicans and Democrats both at 39 wins, 39 losses and one tie. So a lot to play for.

There may be fierce rivalry out on the pitch, but there are also a number of players who have become fierce friends.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were messages of support for Scalise

The suspected gunman, James T Hodgkinson, died from injuries hours after Wednesday’s shooting.

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The 66-year-old suspect from Belleville, Illinois, was a volunteer for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign but whether he was politically motivated is still unclear, investigators said.

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Media captionWhy is this Republican and Democrat on the road together?

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