St. Louis, Mo. — Missouri legislators and government officials dueled their “arch”-rivals, Illinois legislators, in Busch stadium last week.
The event, dubbed the Bi-State Softball Showdown, was put on by Greater St. Louis Inc, an economic development agency in the Gateway City that operates on both sides of the Mississippi River.
The effort was not only a bi-state one but, a bipartisan one as well. Both teams were composed of legislators and officials from both sides of the aisle.
“We represent the 15-county, bi-state St. Louis metro, and we are lucky to have legislative delegations in Illinois and Missouri that work hard to represent the region and promote policies that drive inclusive growth,” said Tracy Henke, chief policy officer at Greater St. Louis, Inc.
“We wanted to bring these bi-state, bipartisan leaders together to celebrate what we share in common, which is a desire to see the St. Louis metro win the next decade, and to further build their relationships with each other,” Henke added.
As is the norm when baseball teams from Illinois and Missouri play in Busch Stadium, team Missouri won the battle, 8-6. Legislators from both chambers of the General Assembly participated on the field and at the plate.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt threw the ceremonial first pitch for the game. Blunt is vacating his seat as he retires this fall.
His potential replacement Eric Schmitt was also on the field, making plays in the outfield. The six-foot-six Attorney General towered above his competition literally and figuratively, garnering two RBI with his bat.
State Senator and Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Boone County, was also in attendance. Soon-to-be Speaker of the House Rep. Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, spent some time on the mound and was team captain.
State Representative and SD 10’s Senator-elect Travis Fitzwater, R-Holt’s Summit, took home the title of MVP due to his performance on the field. Hopefully, it won’t be the only player accepting an MVP in Busch Stadium this year.
When asked about how an event like this can even be put together, Henke credited Greater St. Louis Inc, as well as legislators and local investors.
“Softball team captains, Missouri Speaker-elect Plocher and Illinois Assistant Majority Leader Hoffman, were key to assembling their teams,” Henke said. “We also had help from some of our key investors — including the Cardinals, Maryville University, BJC Healthcare, Edward Jones, and Missouri American Water.”
The game lasted itself 6 innings, with both teams scoring five runs in the 3rd inning. Illinois only scored once after that in the 4th. Missouri on the other hand got three more runs in the 5th.
The officials from the Land of Lincoln outhit their fellows from the Show Me State 14-9, but their offense just could not get the job done, resulting in a Missouri victory.
Busch Stadium also has its fair share of ties to Missouri politics. On Aug. 2 Trudy Busch Valentine, heiress to the Anheuser Busch beer empire, won the Democratic nomination for Blunt’s seat.
But this game was more than just a goodwill gesture between neighboring state governments. It could have some economic implications as well.
“In terms of economic output, St. Louis is the largest market in Missouri and the second largest in Illinois, so working together to drive pro-growth public policies that strengthen the St. Louis metro is critical to both states,” Henke said. “While we hope the members of both teams had fun, we also hope that it reinforces the idea of the good that can come from working together across party and state lines.”
This is the second year in a row the arch-rivals have faced off. Last year was also hosted by Greater St. Louis Inc and also ended with a Missouri win. According to them, plans for next year’s game are already underway.