ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Those rooting for the home team only had one chance at bat to do so. With the sky above Busch Stadium turning as dark blue as Missouri’s jerseys, the clouds unleashed the rain shortly after Rep. Travis Fitzwater got the game’s one and only hit, landing him on second base.
But then, amidst the jubilant — if not slightly astonished — cheers from both dugouts (after all, Illinois’s pitcher finally got the ball across home plate), the annual Bi-State Softball Showdown between the Show-Me State and the Land of Lincoln came to an abrupt halt.
The game was rained out after just one opportunity at bat.
Despite the downpour and muggy temperatures, the atmosphere remained fun and friendly — albeit, still competitive — among the players, families, staffers, and fans huddled in the Cardinals Club.
Instead of watching a softball game, revelers munched on popcorn and downed Budweisers. Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr hoisted last year’s golden championship trophy; Fitzwater was dragged on stage for a post-game press conference, where he — the only player who had a chance at bat — was named the game’s de facto MVP.
“We don’t care about transcending politics or partisan issues. All we care about is winning this game,” Haahr, the confident team captain, jokingly told reporters.
Whether the game will be made up is still to be determined, but players on both sides counted the spirited evening as a win.
Fitzwater said it was a “cool experience” to play on the field at Busch Stadium and humbly noted the game was cancelled just after his “incredible” play.
“What an amazing honor just to be here — the history of this city, the importance of our relationship with Illinois, and what it means to this region, what St. Louis means to both of our states — just an incredible honor,” Fitzwater said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”
Illinois captain and state Rep. Jay Hoffman alleged the rain delay was directly caused by a “rain dance” from the Missouri team; his allegations could not be corroborated by this reporter.
The Missouri roster included: Haahr, Fitzpatrick, Rep. Dottie Bailey, Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, Sen. Justin Brown, Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, Rep. Tracy McCreery, Rep. Dean Plocher, Rep. Raychel Proudie, Rep. Wiley Price, Rep. Robert Ross, Sen. Caleb Rowden, Sen. Dave Schatz, Rep. Nick Schroer, Rep. Cody Smith, and Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
Haahr said he uses the spring legislative softball tournament to scout for his team. But the camaraderie formed on the field among lawmakers in opposite parties can also be helpful during the legislative session, Haahr said.
Missouri remains undefeated in the rivalry, winning last year’s game 7-4. The game was put on by the St. Louis Regional Chamber.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.