Capitol Alert: Role reversal: Republicans beat Dems, take legislative softball game

jwhite@sacbee.comSeptember 4, 2013 

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, the Democratic manager, rallies his troops during a charity softball game at Sacramento's Raley Field on Sept. 3, 2013.

JEREMY WHITE — Sacramento Bee

Republican lawmakers rallied from a two-run deficit to win a charity game 4-2 against their Democratic counterparts on Wednesday night.

Democrats opened the scoring with a run in the fifth and crossed the plate once more in the sixth, but Republicans knotted the score in the seventh before tacking on a two-run lead an inning later to secure the win.

Press access to the game, which was held at Sacramento's Raley Field, proved tricky. The office of Assemblyman Ian Calderon, which coordinated logistics for the game, rebuffed requests for credentials, including from a Bee photographer.

"Republicans" and "victory" seldom occupy the same sentence in California these days -- a fact lost on neither team. Reflecting their resounding majority in the Legislature, Democrats had noticeably more representatives in the dugout (naturally, Dems got the home team's dugout) and in the stands.

"Is there another team playing? Or is it just what's happening to the state?" Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom -- wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the number 2 -- quipped before the game, as he walked into a Democratic dugout churning with blue shirts while a handful of red-clad Republicans warmed up in right field.

"So, what else is new?" Assembly Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, the Republican manager, replied when her team's inferior numbers were pointed out. "We're always outnumbered."

Given the surplus of potential Democratic players, some lawmakers chose to not take the field. A few opted instead for some beer-infused heckling.

Gov. Jerry Brown also surfaced midway through the game, walking into the Democratic dugout and donning a blue t-shirt before posing for photographs with Democratic skipper and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, who spent much of the night with an unlit cigar in hand.

"It's for chomping," Pérez explained.

State Auditor Elaine Howle, ever the impartial observer, served as home plate umpire and presided over a controversial late-inning call that nixed a Republican run after the red team batted out of order. Howle knew what she was doing: before entering public life, she played for a professional San Jose softball team and took the field in the College World Series for the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Amateur softball being what it is, there were a few blooper reel worthy plays. Democrats opened the scoring when the Republican catcher dropped a popup by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, with the bases loaded, allowing a run to score from first. Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, came home with a crucial run in the seventh, but had to recover from a slide that initially left him on the ground a few feet short of home plate.

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