In the summer of 2012, over a quick lunch at the Roxy in Harrisburg, Lynn Deary, the president of Pennsylvania Legislative Services, told Corinna Vecsey Wilson, now president of Wilson500, that she had an idea.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we could show people the more human side of the legislators, like the one we get to see every day at the Capitol?” she asked.
She’d always wanted to start an event similar to the Congressional baseball game held each year in Washington, D.C., she said.
By the end of lunch, some decisions were already made: the game would be softball to encourage wider participation, the teams would be bi-cameral and bi-partisan – a mix of chambers and parties – and the event would raise money for a good cause with statewide impact.
The Capitol All-Stars Softball Game was born.
By late winter, the legislative leaders had signed on as captains and the two statewide food security advocacy organizations, Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, were on board as charitable partners.
The first game took place on a balmy early fall night under the lights at Metro Bank Park. The crowd in the stadium and viewers at home got to see the state’s lawmakers work together, cheer each other on, laugh, compete and share a few drinks in the dugout. Everyone had fun and miraculously, no one got hurt!
One of the inaugural game’s highlights was an earth-shaking collision at first base between Sen. Daylin Leach and Sen. Tim Solobay.
After the inaugural game, the lawmakers were clear. “We want to do this again next year,” they said as they filed out of the park after a decisive West team victory.
The winner’s trophy stood on display in the offices of Speaker Smith and Senator Costa through the winter, sparking occasional competitive comments from the losing East captains, Sen. Pileggi and Democratic House Leader Frank Dermody.
In 2014, on another lovely fall evening, the now-named Yinz and Youse teams took the field for the second annual game. The Yinzers were determined to win again, but the Yousers were equally focused on unseating the victors to bring bragging rights home east of the Susquehanna.
It wasn’t meant to be as Yinz proved too good for Youse once again. Memorable 2014 moments included a congratulatory hug from home base coach Republican Senator Mike Brubaker, founder and chairman of the Senate Hunger Caucus, after a daring run and slide home by Democratic Senator Mike Stack, who went on to win the Lieutenant Governor’s race about six weeks after the game.
Sadly, due to difficulties scheduling the game, Capitol all-Stars was on hiatus for the next few years, but came back strong in 2018, with a memorable game on a cold, rainy night that brought a “three-peat” victory for the Yinzers. Senator Democratic Leader Costa brought a third trophy to his mantle and his co-captain, House Speaker Mike Turzai got his first.
Since that fateful day at the Roxy, and with the support of our incredible sponsors and working group, the Capitol All-Stars Game has now raised more than $200,000 to fight hunger in Pennsylvania. And in an era of otherwise partisan politics, we are proud to say that the game represents the best of the Pennsylvania General Assembly – coming together in good cheer to work for a common goal that will improve our state and the lives of so many.
We look forward to 2019 and hope you can join us there or become a sponsor to help us HIT A HOME RUN AGAINST HUNGER!