[The 90’s raw: Congressional softball tournament]

Eddie Tape #72. The 1991 co-ed Congressional softball tournament in Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Footage continues on Tape 10929.

00:00 B-roll of a 1991 co-ed 13th Annual Robert V. Rota Congressional Softball Tournament. B-roll of the Yellow Journalists’ dug out. Players hang out. One has brought her baby in a carriage. Players chit chat friendly, non-directionally, warm up for the upcoming game.

02:43Copy video clip URL B-roll of players warming up.

03:29Copy video clip URL The videographer, Eddie Becker, asks a female player how what it’s like playing with a baby around. She says this year she took off and hadn’t been playing. She says the baby is 5-months old today. She says she played last year until about the time she became pregnant.  She says her baby’s been coming to these game since he was two-weeks old. She says she doubts she will play today, she’s just warming up in case she’s needed.

05:06Copy video clip URL B-roll of the mom in the dug out with her baby.

05:28Copy video clip URL Tournament commissioner and Yellow Journalist manager Gary Caruso explains that the players are setting up the field for the finals of the 13th Annual Robert V. Rota Congressional Softball Tournament. He sets up cones for an encroachment rule, provides score books and indicators for the umpires. He explains the encroachment rule came about because teams noticed that when a woman came up to bat, outfielders would re-position themselves almost at the infield. When a woman got a hit, it was never a true hit because she’d be thrown out at first base. So they’ve taken the distance from home to third base and doubled it. Until the ball is hit, an outfielder may not come closer than that 120 feet. As Caruso sets up the cones he notes that his Yellow Journalists are playing the Georgia Peach Pits. He says those players work for Georgia’s Congressman Hatcher and others on and off the Hill.

09:41Copy video clip URL Interview with Ron Thompson, coach of The Outhouse Gang. He is sitting with a woman called Melinda and her dog, Lady. Thompson notes that his team has been called The Outhouse Gang since 1976. Prior to that they were the White House Team under Ford’s and Nixon’s administrations. President Carter had his own softball team, so they had to move. He says they play in the Arlington County League as well as the Congressional League. His team has five men, five women. In the Congressional League, the rule is for the teams to have seven men and three women. He notes his female players play just as well as the male players. He adds they socialize together all year round. He tells the story of playing a team from West Virginia since 1974. The team flew to DC from West Virginia, brought media with them, and played a friendly game. They even gave the West Virginia team a tour of the Capitol. The DC team had President Carter appear and present a silver bat. The following year the DC team traveled to West Virginia where the host team had famed pitcher Bob Feller throw out the first pitch. They also had a former professional ballplayer playing third base for them. They gave their visitors a tour of the State House and made them honorary citizens of West Virginia. The DC team won and the two teams have been meeting each year and each event is equally as sociable. “It’s a good friendship we’ve created.”

17:02Copy video clip URL Thompson says that originally the members of the team worked for White House staff, secret service, or were somehow associated with the White House. Now they work all over. He notes that Reagan signed a letter congratulating them on winning the 1981 tournament. This somehow lead them to being asked to be the White House team again. This would have required them to let go of some current players in favor of adding on current White House players. Being a tight group, they did not want to do this, so they politely declined.

20:04Copy video clip URL Thompson talks about their pitcher, Jane Register. She’s been our pitcher since the league started. She’s probably the best in the league. “If it hadn’t been for Jane Register we would have folded a long time ago.” She did all the scheduling, called all the people, made sure entry forms were in.

21:21Copy video clip URL Register enters. She greets the videographer, Eddie Becker.

21:38Copy video clip URL Interview with Register who says women like to play their positions. We’ve had some real good women on our team. She started playing in 1973. We play Congressional teams and have developed friendships with them. We play a few teams outside the league. It’s been fun.

25:26Copy video clip URL Thompson remembers playing Senator Warner’s team. He brought actress Elizabeth Taylor out to watch. Bill Brock used to come out. Senator Tower used to come to our games.

26:40Copy video clip URL Register says they played President Carter’s team, and last year it got ugly. They almost had a fist fight. They also played the Federal Elections Committee team. They were nice people. Good sports. The Architects of the US Capitol team were real poor sports. It seemed like very play was an argument.

29:38Copy video clip URL Register says there hasn’t been much evolution of women in the sport. They only play three women in this league. It’s difficult to find competitive women. It’s always been that way. Thompson notes that there has been some evolution in how women participate in a game. Instead of teams keeping the women as pitcher and catcher, and placing them sequentially in the batting line up, women are now more evenly dispersed on the field and in the batting line up.

33:00Copy video clip URL Register adds that times are changing and women want to be included in the professional world.  She adds she works in the defense industry. It’s a man’s world. It’s tough out there for women. With 400 people in her office, she says she finds it hard to find women to play softball.

37:00Copy video clip URL Register says her team is finished for the tournament. They lost out in the first round. “We had a bad year.” She notes the best team they’ve seen this year is the Biaggi team. They disbanded when their Congressman left office having gotten into a lot of trouble. The teams that are still around from the early days are The Yellow Journalists, The Lone Star All-Stars from committee members on the Hill. The Mississippi Mudcats made up of Mississippi delegation. And then there’s an all-Florida team.

39:42Copy video clip URL Register says her team keeps going because they’re like a family. “We have a great time on and off the field.”

40:08Copy video clip URL B-roll of the tournament in progress. Various plays. The Yellow Journalists are at bat. The Georgia Peach Pits are playing defense. The inning’s over. The yellow team takes the field. A player on the yellow team says the Yellow Journalists are winning seven to five. B-roll of a mom in the dug out with her baby. B-roll of various plays.

43:03Copy video clip URL The Yellow Journalists back at bat. Various plays.

45:11Copy video clip URL Game over. The Yellow Journalists have won. The teams shake hands. Caruso recaps the game for the videographer. He says the Georgia team came in loose and ready to play. They played well and “Scared the hell out of us.” He says now, his team will have a beer, get loose, and wait for the other team. He points out scouts from competitors in the stands. “They’ve been scouting us, but I’m gonna change the line up on them!”

46:24Copy video clip URL A female players shows off her pet dogs. “They’re the team mascots.” Various b-roll of the yellow team congregating and celebrating their victory with beer. They are preparing to play a second round in the tournament.

47:10Copy video clip URL Interview with Malay Williams from Senator Strom Thurmond’s office. Her team is also undefeated in the tournament. Her team is about to play The Yellow Journalists. She says they are a South Carolina team, mostly working for Senator Thurmond. She says they had the best season they’ve ever had. They just played a team called Crude and Unrefined. She says they have six women on the team and are probably the six best in the league. She says the encroachment rule hasn’t affected them. The women no her team play as well as the men. She’s been with Thurmond’s office for three years. She’s a legislative correspondent dealing with legislation that does not affect his committees. She says there are female attorneys on staff. She says women are getting more and more recognition. “I don’t know if you’ll ever see women in the majority, but they are making headway.”

51:45Copy video clip URL Caruso interviews Carl Steamer of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). His team is without a sponsoring agency. He says they go by the names LEAA and “Mixed Parts” because the players are from everywhere! He says Robert Rota is postmaster of the House. He shows of his Robert V. Rota Tournament t-shirt showing all the winners in the history of the tournament. Carl explains that he is a lawyer for LEAA, which aids state and local law enforcement agency. They gave money in forms of grants. The softball team started in about 1975, he joined in 1979, then funding for the team was cut in 1981. There are only three of us left from the original LEAA team. He says hey find players by recruiting them from various agencies, NASA for example. He says he’s not aware of any politics that go on in the league.

59:56Copy video clip URL B-roll of another game in progress. The Yellow Journalists are at bat. B-roll of various play. Inning change. Strom Thurmond’s South Carolina Sandlappers team gets up to bat. Various b-roll. Malay Williams hits a double.

01:05:25Copy video clip URL B-roll of the game from The Yellow Journalists dug out. The journalists are at bat. Heidi hits a double.

01:15:33Copy video clip URL Continued b-roll from the Sandlappers’ dug out. B-roll of various plays with South Carolina at bat.

01:19:20Copy video clip URL  Two players on the Sandlappers team comment on frustrations of the game. B-roll of various at-bats.

01:21:33Copy video clip URL Various b-roll of the game from the Yellow Journalists’ dug out.

01:23:02Copy video clip URL Game over. The players shake hands. The Yellow Journalists are victorious. Caruso and Williams talk with the coach of the Georgia team about scheduling the next few games over the next few days.

01:24:40Copy video clip URL B-roll in the Yellow Journalists dug out, players celebrate and drink beer.

01:25:35Copy video clip URL Various shots of Caruso presenting a Fourth Place trophy to the Crude & Unrefined team and shakes the manager’s hand.  He says we have 212 teams. Crude & Refined came in fourth out of sixty-four in the tournament.

01:28:23Copy video clip URL Change of location. Caruso at the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. He notes they are going into the Longworth Building. We’re going to look at the brackets of softball teams and collect the three trophies to be presented tonight. He says the Post Master General will throw out the first pitch tonight.

01:30:09Copy video clip URL The videographer, Eddie Becker, goes through security with his camera. He talks with the security guard about his concern of sending videotape through an x-ray machine. Becker and Caruso walk through the Longworth building. Caruso notes in this building are Appropriation committee staff and congressional committee staff. They go down to the post office in the basement level. The tape rolls while Caruso chit chats with a colleague about plans for tonight.

01:33:41Copy video clip URL Caruso and Becker walk to the brackets displayed on the wall . They display the sixty-four teams participating in the softball tournament. Caruso explains the tournament system and who will be playing tonight. “It starts out as single elimination tournament until you get to the final four. Then it becomes a double elimination tournament.” He traces the history of his Yellow Journalism team through the tournament. We started first against the Rolling Rockers, then we played the Roadsters, then the The Wheat Germs, they then beat the Stallions and made it into the final four. He traces the victories of the Georgia Peach Pits and the South Carolina Sandlappers. He explains that the Yellow Journalist must win tonight to win the championship.

01:41:02Copy video clip URL Caruso picks up the first, second, and third place trophies.

01:41:15Copy video clip URL Change of location. In the dug out of Georgia Peach Pit team preparing for a game. Interview with Dean Mitchell from Quitman, Georgia. He says he works for Congressman Hatcher. The team is 25 and 5. Audio signal loss.

01:42:07Copy video clip URL Stop/re-start digitizing. No audio signal.

01:42:30Copy video clip URL Audio signal returns. B-roll of Georgia fraternizing in the dug out. They say they are not nervous. “We’ve been here before. We’re an experienced pennant-chasing team.”

01:45:13Copy video clip URL They talk about the rivalry between their team and the South Carolina Sandlappers. “The question we have is what is a sandlapper?”  They introduce the videographer to Savannah, a baby being held by its mother, the team’s second baseman.

01:47:05Copy video clip URL Audio signal loss. Video signal loss.

01:47:21Copy video clip URL Stop/re-start digitizing. Video signal loss. No audio.

01:47:55Copy video clip URL Stop/re-start digitizing. Video and audio signal loss. When the signal returns, the Georgia team is on the bench talking about rivalries.  They say every time Georgia plays Florida it’s a tough game. We’re out here to have fun. It’s not political, there’s no Democrat/Republican rivalry. The relationship between politics and softball is competition, team work, chemistry between players. They’re both games. People that work on the Hill do not see the real world, they can’t relate to people in the midwest. The stereotype is, once you get to the Hill you forget where you came from. Georgia takes the field.

01:51:01Copy video clip URL Caruso says that tonight is the beginning of the final championship round. Georgia Peach Pits vying to go to the final round. The winner will play the Yellow Journalists.

01:52:21Copy video clip URL The umpire explains the rules to Georgia and South Carolina coaches. They shake hands and begin the game.

01:53:13Copy video clip URL Caruso explains his superstition: if he finds a coin on game day he will put it in his sock. He demonstrates the ritual, but video signal loss disintegrates the footage. Various b-roll, South Carolina at bat.

01:57:12Copy video clip URL B-roll Georgia players in their dug out.

01:58:16Copy video clip URL Audio signal drop outs, audio loss. B-roll Georgia team in dug out cheering on teammates. Georgia scores two runs. B-roll of Georgia at bat.

01:59:45Copy video clip URL Grace McPhearson says she a part-time catcher “When my fingernails aren’t too long or I don’t have a drink in my hand.” Her favorite position is Designated Hitter. Georgia players return from the field.

02:00:40Copy video clip URL END. The footage continues on Tape 10929.



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