Fact Check

Did Biden Get a Mighty Hit at Congressional Baseball Game in the '70s?

The U.S. president fondly remembered a mighty swing he says he took during a baseball game in 1973, but we're not sure if it happened.

Published July 8, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 02: U.S. President Joe Biden (C) holds the jersey given to him by Los Angeles Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter during an event with the 2020 World Series champions in the East Room of the White House on July 02, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win the championship series at the end of an abbreviated season due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Image Via Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
During an annual congressional baseball game in the 1970s, Joe Biden hit a ball off the right-center field wall.

U.S. President Biden's story was loose on details, but he did get at least one fact wrong. He stated that the game took place at the "old Washington stadium" but Biden's first congressional games were played in Baltimore. As for the 386-foot hit? Biden was missing from action in 1975 and struck out twice in 1974, but he did get a hit in 1973. While Biden may remember this dinger, newspaper articles of the time did not single out this hit as a memorable moment from the game.

In July 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers at the White House to celebrate the team's World Series victory. During the ceremony, Biden told a brief story about one of his proudest sporting accomplishments: a 368-foot hit off the right-center field wall during a congressional baseball game circa 1973:

Here's Biden's full quote.  

We have a congressional baseball game every year ... I used to be center field ... My kids only remember two things that ever happened in my career, my boys, and they've met kings and queens and gone to other countries, but I played in the first, in the second congressional baseball game at the old stadium, the old Washington stadium, and I hit one off the right-center field wall, it bounced off the wall, it was 368 or I don't know exactly what is now, off the wall, and I'm rounding... anyway, to make a long story short, my kids remembered it over all the rest and guess what I remember it too.

You can hear Biden tell this story at the 17-minute mark of the following video:

Biden's story was a little loose on the details (he says it was his first congressional game and then says it was second), but he did get at least one fact wrong. Biden says that this game took place at the "old Washington stadium," but that can't be correct. Biden, who became a U.S. senator in 1973, played in his first congressional baseball game that same year at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. The year prior, the congressional baseball game was played at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C., but Biden did not participate in that game (as he was not yet a senator).

Biden participated in at least three congressional baseball games between 1973 and 1975. This alleged hit certainly did not happen in his final appearance as Biden never got the chance to bat. It appears that Biden briefly took up residence in center field but he never got the chance to make a defensive play and never made an appearance at the plate.

In 1974, Biden did get a chance to bat, but he struck out both times. After the game, Biden applauded the pitching of Peter Domincini, a former minor league player and a Republican senator from New Mexico. Biden said: "He threw me straight stuff ... But he has some motion. I just took my cuts and hoped. I wouldn't want to make a career out of hitting against him. Once a year is already too much."

While Biden certainly did not hit a 368-foot ball against the right-center field wall in '74 or '75, it's possible that this hit took place during Biden's first congressional game in 1973. Biden he went 1 for 2 at the plate during the 1973 game. We searched newspaper accounts of the game but weren't able to find any descriptions of Biden's hit. The Associated Press described Biden's .500 batting average as "lusty" in their July 31, 1973, article about the game, but we're honestly not sure how to interpret that:

It's possible that Biden's 1973 "lusty" hit bounced off the right-center field wall — that wall at Memorial Park, where this game was played, was about 446 feet. At RFK Park, where this game was not played, the wall is about 380 feet — but we have not been able to find any documentation that that was the case. Judging from this newspaper clipping alone, it's just as likely that this was a ground ball or a bloop single. In any case, while this hit may have been memorable to Biden and his family, as far as we can tell it was inconsequential to the game and didn't drive in any runs.

We weren't able to find any other references of Biden playing in the congressional baseball game after 1975. The scores and winners for nearly all of the congressional baseball games since 1909 can be found in the archives of the United States House of Representatives, but not the rosters. We reached out to the House of Representatives and the White House for more information about Biden's congressional baseball career and will update this article if more information becomes available.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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