Scalise was one of six people injured during a shooting at the Alexandria, Virginia, park where GOP congressmen were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity last June. Scalise was shot while in position on second base, and is set to start for the Republican team in the same position.
“That fact that I get to start at second is really special,” Scalise, 52, told reporters Thursday morning. “To be able to walk back out on this field, a year later, is an incredible feeling.”
Crowds at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., cheered as Scalise took the field on Thursday, hugging his fellow congressmen in celebration of the moment.
The congressman underwent surgery for a “trans-pelvic gunshot wound” which caused “substantial damage to bones, organs and blood vessels,” the director of trauma at MedStar Washington Hospital Center said at the time. Scalise was in critical condition and has had nine surgeries since the shooting.
The congressman recovered to the point where he could throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Nationals game in October. He chose to play in the charity game again this year, despite still being affected by the injuries.
“I still need two crutches to really move around,” Scalise told CNN on Thursday before the event. “I’ve started to be able to walk without crutches but don’t quite have the balance to move at a good pace.”
Lawmakers went ahead with the scheduled charity game the day after the shooting. Republicans and Democrats came together before the event to pray for the six injured.
“Around this time last year, I was in my office on the phone with Steve Scalise’s wife,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tweeted on Thursday. “We didn’t yet know that Steve-o had such a long fight ahead of him. But one year later, we know our prayers were answered.”
Former U.S. Rep. John Tener, a retired professional baseball player, organized the first congressional game in 1909, and the tradition continued intermittently since then. In its modern form, the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity is a fundraiser where Republicans and Democrats face off on the field for a good cause.
Last year, after the shooting, the game raised $1.5 million in ticket sales that were distributed in grants for multiple charities. The funds were also used to help support others injured in the shooting, including two U.S. Capitol Police officers.
Scalise wore a Capitol Police baseball hat at the game to honor the officers who helped save his life by engaging with the shooter.