WASHINGTON -- Maryland Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest has impressed fellow Republicans lately with his enthusiasm, versatility and competence -- on the baseball field.
Tonight, Gilchrest will get a chance to show his stuff when Republican House members take the field against the Democrats in the annual congressional baseball game.
Gilchrest, R-1st, prefers the outfield, but he's done a standout job at third base during 6:30 a.m. practices, according to scouts. He's being called a "secret weapon" by Roll Call, the independent Capitol Hill newspaper that is a sponsor of the game.
But Gilchrest, 45, is characteristically modest about his performance. "I'm in terrible shape," says the former teacher and Marine. "I was lucky the [first] day I went to practice."
Players will wear the colors of their local major league teams. Gilchrest will wear number 13 on his Baltimore Orioles uniform. It's the number his 15-year-old son Joel wears for the Worton Reds, a Kent County league team.
The handy Gilchrest, who's a lefty when he writes, will bat and field right-handed.
"I don't think of myself as a lefty or a righty," Gilchrest is quoted as saying in a tongue-in-cheek news release. "I prefer to remain independent."
Maryland will field another ballplayer tonight in Orioles garb, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, who plays for the Democrats. This could be the speedy Mfume's long-awaited opportunity. Elected in 1986, he has gotten scant time in the field and nary an at-bat in the last several games.
"Play me or trade me," Mfume, 41, was reported to have said last year.
The action begins at 7 p.m. at Four Mile Run Stadium in Alexandria, Va. Tickets cost $3. The proceeds will not be used to defray the national debt.