I live in the shadow of National’s Park, a mile from our nation’s Capitol building, and I love baseball. I joined thousands of fans at the recent annual Congressional Baseball Game, which has become a much bigger deal than it used to be since the wounding of House Minority Leader Steve Scalise at a practice several years ago. The Democrat and Republican fans sit on opposite sides of the diamond, just like they do at the State of the Union. And in recent years, under the management of Congressman Mike Doyle from my hometown of Pittsburgh, the Democrats usually win. Not this year! The GOP trounced their Democratic colleagues 10-0. Not that I am using this to predict a really good election year for House Republicans, but maybe I am.
In the dog days of a Washington summer, with the August congressional recess in full force, baseball should provide us some relief, right? My problem is that I am both a Pirates and a Nationals fan. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh during the glory years of the Pirates. I actually saw the great Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell play at Forbes Field. I saw them compete against some of the greatest pitchers of all time, including baseball hall of fame players like Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, and Bob Gibson. Every Pittsburgher thinks the greatest World Series of all time was our 1960 seven game victory over the New York Yankees with Bill Mazeroski’s walk off Home Run. The 1971 and 1979 seven game World Series wins over the great Baltimore Orioles teams are classic. “We are Family” is still our mantra in Pittsburgh. Then, things started to change.
A young Barry Bonds took the Pittsburgh Pirates to the playoffs three years in a row in the early nineties. And just when you have a superstar who could keep the Pirates in the playoff hunt for his entire career, the Pirates didn’t think it was worth paying him his market value, and he was off to San Francisco.
Fast forward to the nineties, when Ridge Policy Group’s Governor Tom Ridge was in office. He vowed to save the Pirates and help them build a new stadium. We were surprised that when he made the commitment, the Steelers, Eagles and Phillies all said they wanted new buildings too. The Governor agreed to help. Our General Counsel at the time, Paul Tufano (a client of the Ridge Policy Group, a top DC lobbying firm, as CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas) lead the effort to put together a successful plan to help build four new stadiums.
I was serving as Governor Ridge’s Chief of Staff at the time and to be a bit nostalgic, I remember when Republicans and Democrats used to work together in state government on big issues. It took us two years of lobbying, Republican and Democrats, business and labor, but Governor Ridge finally signed a bill to help build all four stadiums. Today, PNC Park is arguably the best baseball stadium in the country. However, the Pirates ownership doesn’t really care about winning. As soon as our young players develop, they trade them away.
Back in Washington, Juan Soto lived four doors down from me last year at Dock 79. He was all about business. I moved to the Navy Yard for the 2019 Washington Nationals World Series year, it was an incredible time for Washington baseball fans. And since that time, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer and now Juan Soto are all gone. And the Pirates and Nats seem to be competing for the bottom.
So, I still love baseball, and I still enjoy lobbying both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. But I want to get back to winning by addition not by subtraction. Working together is really fun, and productive. Our team at the Ridge Policy Group works with everyone who wants to pursue a positive direction for our country, and we will continue to do so. In the meantime, I will continue to walk next door to Nat’s Park, have fun, drink beer, and hope for positive change.
This post was written by Mark Holman, a top Washington DC lobbyist. He, Governor Ridge, and Mark Campbell are all partners at Ridge Policy Group. RPG has been named a best PA lobbying firm and DC lobbying firms. Here at RPG, we work at both the state a federal level in a bipartisan manner with Members of Congress to pass legislation that helps Pennsylvanians and Americans.