Government

His Colleagues Wanted to Honor Rep. Steve Scalise. His Alma Mater Was Ready to Help.

June 14, 2017

Tom Williams/Getty Images
The U.S. House of Representatives majority whip, Steve Scalise (right), talks with Charles Boustany Jr., then a fellow congressman from Louisiana, before a football game at Louisiana State U., Mr. Scalise’s alma mater.
After U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican and majority whip of the House of Representatives, was shot on Wednesday morning during a practice for an annual charity baseball game, his colleagues devised a way to honor their colleague. At Thursday’s annual Congressional Baseball Game, where Republicans face off against Democrats, team members of both parties plan to wear the uniforms of Mr. Scalise’s alma mater, Louisiana State University.

The university was eager to assist, sending T-shirts, 70 baseball caps, and towels from Baton Rouge to Washington, D.C., for the game, wrote Ernie Ballad, an LSU spokesman, in an email.

“Baseball is one of those things in D.C. that everyone can agree on.”
In a statement, F. King Alexander, the university’s president, said he’s thankful that Congress is recognizing Mr. Scalise by wearing his alma mater’s colors. "Representative Scalise is a proud LSU alumnus and great supporter of the university, and we are proud to help out even in this small way."

A gunman opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where the Republican team was practicing around 7 a.m., and Mr. Scalise was standing on second base when he was shot in the hip. He was one of four struck by the gunman. He underwent surgery at a Washington hospital and, as of Wednesday night, was reported to be in critical condition.

April Anderson, president of LSU’s alumni chapter in Washington, said that a member of Congress initially contacted the university about getting purple-and-gold gear to wear for the game. Mr. Alexander’s office then contacted the alumni chapter about sending Tiger T-shirts and caps to the game.

When he was elected in 2008, Mr. Scalise joined the annual baseball game and even encouraged his colleague across the aisle, Rep. Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat, to play.

"Baseball is one of those things in D.C. that everyone can agree on," Ms. Anderson said. "It’s no surprise to me that he felt so comfortable and connected playing baseball."

For LSU fans, the symbolic gesture may mean a little more this year as the Tigers will head to Omaha this weekend for the NCAA College World Series. On Monday, Mr. Scalise tweeted his congratulations for the team after their qualifying game victory.

"As divided as the country seems to be right now we can all cheer for the Tigers going to Omaha," Ms. Anderson said.

Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz is a breaking-news reporter. Follow her on Twitter @FernandaZamudio, or email her at fzamudiosuarez@chronicle.com.