WASHINGTON -- The Democrats and Republicans in Congress haven't been able to agree on much in recent days, but they won't argue on one point -- Rep. Cedric Richmond sure knows how to pitch.
The 37-year-old right-hander from Louisiana played baseball during his days at Morehouse College and showed that he hasn't forgotten much. Richmond made his debut in the annual Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday night, throwing a one-hitter and striking out 13, as the Democrats rolled to an easy 8-2 victory in the seven-inning contest at Nationals Park.
Thursday was the 50th edition of this game, which has been a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington plus the Washington Literacy Council for years. The contest raised more than $134,000 last year, and this year's game was a third straight Democratic victory.
The Democrats jumped in front early with three runs in both the first and second for a quick 6-0 lead, and Richmond eliminated any suspense left by completely dominating the Republicans from the mound. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and didn't find any trouble until the seventh, when the Republicans manufactured two runs without a hit.
It wasn't hard to see how much Richmond enjoyed what he did during the game, especially when talking about it after the game.
"This is really a dream come true," he said. "Now I save the money, and I don't have to go to fantasy camp. This was a good dream for me. It means a lot. Every young boy in this country grows up wanting to play professional baseball and wanting to play in a Major League park, and tonight we get to do that -- and for a good cause."
Democratic manager Mike Doyle (Pa.) said that the Democrats definitely knew that Richmond had a no-hitter going. They treated their pitcher just like the Nationals would in a similar situation in a pro game.
Some things never change.
"We weren't saying a word," Doyle said with a smile. "We were just being quiet. No one was bringing it up."
Rep. Steve Pearce (N.M.) ended Richmond's dreams of a no-hitter by leading off the sixth with a single to left. The crowd of approximately 8,000 gave Richmond a standing ovation at that point. Richmond spent most of the night blowing away most of the Republican batters. He kept things very simple, often sticking with a fastball, sometimes changing speeds.
But the bottom line was that they couldn't catch up with his fastball. Most right-handed batters kept fouling the ball off the opposite way.
"I thought he was great," said Republican Rep. Todd Platts (Pa.). "He had great composure out there. He looked good to me."
The Republicans better get used to seeing Richmond in this game since he's so young.
"He's a stud," Doyle said. "He's a young kid. We're old men. I have a feeling he might start for us next year."
Richmond's quest for a no-hitter brought some drama into a game that's largely about fun and getting away from the tension for a few hours.
The Democrats and Republicans have been embroiled in a tense debate over the national debt during recent days, something that's caught the attention of this country, and it was easy to see how much fun everyone had on the field in pregame workouts and during the contest.
Of course, there were the little political things. The game program had the following: hits (R or L), throws (R or L) and, naturally, votes (R or L). The Democrats also took the third-base dugout (down the left-field line) and the Republicans grabbed the first-base dugout (down the right-field line).
But they truly did look like little kids on a ballfield in some small town before the game, taking grounders and shagging fly balls. During the game, they were so excited to be on the field that the Nationals played on that working the count didn't happen very often.
They swung early and often -- and didn't really care.
"I have to tell you, I'm 62 years old," said Democratic Rep. Bill Owens (N.Y.). "These are probably the last couple of chances I'll have to play on a Major League ballfield. This is a feel-good thing. It just engenders conversation at a different level. When you get to know people, you really can't dislike them that much, most of the time."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.