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SGMA Plays Prominent Role in Congressional Baseball Thriller

Date: 7/18/08

Washington, D.C. – July 18, 2008 -- The 47th Annual Congressional Baseball game turned out to be one of the best ever, with the GOP squeaking out a hard-fought 11-10 victory over the Democrats. The game went back and forth for much of the night with the teams scoring a combined nine runs in the last inning. With the victory in the game, the Republicans now lead the overall series, 33-14.

This annual game raises money for two local charities: the Washington Literacy Council and the Greater Washington Boys & Girls Clubs. An estimated crowd of 6,000 supported the charities by attending the game played at the new Nationals Park, the home of the Washington Nationals.

Equipment donated by SGMA members Easton, Nike, Rawlings, Reebok and Wilson definitely had an impact on the event as it was one of the highest-scoring games and better defensive efforts in many years. The loaned equipment will be donated to the Washington Boys & Girls Clubs and Washington, DC Public Schools to help increase youth participation in baseball in the DC area.

The GOP victory was its 8th in a row and clinched the best-of-five game series for the Roll Call Cup. Overall, the Republicans have won 11 of the last 12 games, but this victory was definitely the most difficult during the current winning streak. The Democrats scored the first run, but trailed 3-1 after four innings. The Democrats were resilient as they scored three unanswered runs to take a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. The Republicans bounced back with five runs in the sixth to regain the lead, 8-4.

With both starting pitchers, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA), out of the game, the batters took control. After the Democrats scored two runs and loaded the bases against Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) in their final at-bat, the GOP turned back to Shimkus to put out the fire. Shimkus eventually retired the side, but not before the Democrats plated four additional runs to take a 10-8 lead. Entering the bottom of the 7th inning, it was ‘do or die’ for the Republicans.

The GOP loaded the bases against Democratic reliever Bart Stupak (MI). That led to the re-entry of Baca, the Democrats starting pitcher. After the Republicans closed the gap to 10-9, the Democrats appeared to get out of the bases-loaded jam on a bouncer back to the pitcher. Baca threw home to get the second out which momentarily preserved the slim lead, however catcher Chris Murphy’s (PA) throw to first for the final out sailed high into right field allowing two GOP runners to cross the plate for the 11-10 win.

While the game is always competitive, the camaraderie among the political rivals remains strong. The scoreboard may signal a winner and a loser, but the teams genuinely feel that everybody wins when Congress can raise money for such worthy causes. Democratic Coach Mike Doyle (PA) emphasized this point, “We help two good charities and it’s good for Congress too. Most of the guys that play on the baseball teams are friends, Democrats or Republicans.” Republican Coach Steve Buyer (IN) echoed Doyle’s comments, “The Congress works well when there is camaraderie among members, and it’s been so divisive over the last couple decades that whenever we can come together for sporting events like this and raise money for charity, it’s a good thing.”

SGMA is proud to support worthy causes through Congressional sports as a way to enhance the industry’s image and encourage physical activity. SGMA is also involved with the Congressional Football Game to raise money for the Capitol Hill Police Memorial Fund and the Congressional Basketball Game that benefits Horton’s Kids, a DC organization that works with at-risk children.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, owner of the Sports Research Partnership, is the global business trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA enhances industry vitality and fosters sports, fitness, and active lifestyle participation. More information about SGMA can be found at www.sgma.com.

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