Six year veteran of GOP team: ‘We could be sitting ducks’

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  A former congressman from Northeast Indiana used to play on the GOP congressional baseball team. Former third district Representative Marlin Sutzman played on the GOP team for six years. That team was targeted during a shooting Wednesday morning at a practice. Five people were shot including Representative Steve Scalise.

For Stutzman the baseball team was a family affair. He would often bring his sons to the morning practices. He said we need this game now more than ever.

“There were times I thought there were a lot of congressional members out [at practice],” Stutzman said. “We could be sitting ducks.”

For the six years Stutzman played on the GOP congressional baseball team it wasn’t often they were without security at practices.

“[House Republican Majority Whip] Steve Scalise, who was shot, was part of leadership so he would have his security there but generally if there were 15 members or more from Congress there would be some sort of security,” Stutzman explained. “We never really thought there’d be anything like this even if there were times we thought–boy if somebody knew.”

After Wednesday’s shooting, Stutzman is thinking of the good times.

“It’s just always fun to be out with your colleagues doing something different than what you do on the Hill every day,” Stutzman said.

Stutzman praised the work of the Capitol Police on scene Wednesday. So did Congressmen Jim Banks and Todd Young.

“It was due to [police] heroic efforts that the shooter was brought down,” Rep. Banks (R-3) said.

“They’ll be getting a few extra handshakes from me today and I know a few others will do the same,” Sen. Young (R) said.

Neither Congressmen play on the team. Senator Joe Donnelly plays on the Democratic team, and was practicing the morning of the shooting in D.C. On Twitter he said he was okay, and that his thoughts are with Rep. Scalise and those who were hurt.

Stutzman hopes to see the game played Thursday, which is still the plan. It’s a critical time for the camaraderie.

“I think it’s such an important piece to bringing civility and bringing both sides together, and realizing we have so much more in common that we do different,” Stutzman said.

There was at least one child at practice. Stutzman said he and his wife gave their sons an extra hug Wednesday morning.